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Spectacle in an Ahistorical World

Nov 17 - Dec 18, 2016

Crack Rodriguez

Planas, 2013

Performance

Crack Rodríguez
Shin Gallery presents Spectacle in an Ahistorical World, the first solo exhibition of the Salvadoran artist Crack Rodriguez in the United States. Through his “acciones” carried out in the streets of El Salvador, Rodriguez aims to inspire consciousness and questioning among the public, in particular by forming relations with Salvadorans who aren’t directly connected or concerned with the art world. The exhibition will be a video installation, displaying footage of Rodriguez’s performances and demonstrations in a recreation of a cinderblock house typical of his native El Salvador. The domestic environment, complete with a clothesline, will create an intimate viewing atmosphere for urgent works that demand immediacy.

Since its bitter civil war ended in 1992, El Salvador has been ensnared by rampant gang violence and political corruption, and currently has one of the world’s highest murder rates. Rodriguez’s practice is a reaction to the widespread corruption and elitism of a government that trumpets the power of the vote and the people to control their own destiny. His performances are daring, innovative responses to the ongoing paradox of a country that claims to be a democracy, yet seems to function counter to the interests of the wider public.

Rodriguez uses loaded symbols to explore intertwined notions of commerce, democracy, pedagogy and religion. His use of his body is central to the performances, as he takes on the role of political vessel and evangelist, at times almost a parody of protest and demonstration. Some performances are repetitive and violent, hysterical expressions of his frustration with El Salvador’s static social and political climate. Rodriguez embraces the absurd, humorous and farcical as a response to a country whose sociopolitical realities defy logic, whose peoples are afflicted by loss of memory and mindless repetition of history. He smashes school desks, plays a traditional marimba with his head, and wanders city streets reciting a cellphone user manual through a megaphone.
Rodriguez gained international attention during El Salvador’s contested 2014 presidential election, in which he was accused of electoral fraud after eating his voting ballot in a statement of dissatisfaction with the candidates of the two major parties. This conflation of symbols of consumption and hunger with those of freedom and democracy is typical of Rodriguez’s work. As part of a 2014 performance entitled “Free Down,” he knelt in a pile of corn grain in San Salvador’s liberty square as pigeons swarmed, and in his 2015 “Work,” hurled a cake at the side of a monument proclaiming the power of the vote.

Crack Rodriguez (b. 1980) lives and works in El Salvador. He is a member of The Fire Theory, an interdisciplinary arts collaborative. Solo exhibitions include “Circumstances of the Remains,” Lokkus Arte Contemporáneo, Medellín, Colombia, 2014; “Share,” La Casa de las Aguilas, Santa Tecla, El Salvador, 2014; “Neutropolitan Attack,” Eclectic Festival of the Arts, San Salvador, El Salvador, 2013; “Error,” Municipal Museum of Santa Tecla, El Salvador, 2011. Group exhibitions and festivals include “Relocating SAL,” Vienna, 2015; “Tropical Interzone,” Zurich, 2015; “Peripheral Spectacular,” Mexico City, 2015; “Las Buenas,” Managua, Nicaragua, 2014; “Intraforma,” Guatemala City, Guatemala, 2014; “Actions in the Public Sphere,” Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 2013. Rodriguez is a former fellow of the Summer Akademy Paul Klee. He has been selected for the DESPINA “Art and Activism in Latin America” residency in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, and was nominated for an Emerging Artists Grant by the MISOL Foundation in Bogota, Colombia in 2014.