Rodrigo Valenzuela’s exhibition incorporates works from two connected and ongoing photographic series, Weapons and Afterwork, that are integrated into floor-to-ceiling wood frame structures installed along with ceramic pieces by the artist.
Through a patina of nostalgic fantasy, Valenzuela’s Weapons series offers views of imaginative performances that might take place on a job site once workers depart. Knives, screws, rope, and chains—the tools of many trades—appear reconfigured as sinister phoenixes, ramshackle sculptures, and animistic creatures of dreams. Afterwork presents pictures of somber, silvery rooms filled with mechanical contraptions and fog, possibly from the sweat left hanging in the air after a long day’s work. Valenzuela’s works are animated by a dream-like quality and driven by an urgent human and political exploration: that of global economics and the human dimensions of labor, considered in the wake of neoliberalism.
The exhibition also pushes the bounds of photography’s materiality and, in some ways, recalls the labor intensive early days of the medium. To make these monumental works, Valenzuela assembles the found-object sculptures and the tableaux, makes and develops photographs, and then screen-prints the images onto canvases that have already been collaged with repurposed time cards and smeared with black ink. The artist’s mixed-media process is extensive and physically demanding, literally embedding his own labor amongst the broader ideas of what human labor and collective action mean to us in the post-industrial present.
About the artist
Rodrigo Valenzuela has exhibited internationally with past solo exhibitions at BRIC (Brooklyn), the New Museum (New York), Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), the Orange County Museum of Art (Costa Mesa, CA), the Frye Art Museum (Seattle), Museo de Arte Contemporàneo, and Universidad de Chile (both Santiago, CL). He has also taken part in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, MacDowell (Peterborough, NH), Dora Maar Fellowship (Ménerbes, FR), and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha), among others.
The exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts with additional support from Martha Jones and Christine Armstrong
Image: Rodrigo Valenzuela, Weapon #29, 2022. Silkscreen, acrylic on collage cardboard and canvas, 96 x 60 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Asya Geisberg Gallery.