Objects being collected for "Sandstars" (2012)
on Isla Arena, Baja California, Mexico
© Gabriel Orozco
Source: Deutsche Guggenheim
One component of the exhibition, Sandstars, responds to the unique environment encountered in Isla Arena, Mexico, a wildlife reserve, which is simultaneously a whale mating ground, whale cemetery, and industrial wasteland. Orozco has worked there before, having extracted from its sands the whale skeleton that forms the sculpture Mobile Matrix (2006), now permanently installed in the Biblioteca de México José Vasconcelos in Mexico City.
His return to this sanctuary yielded entirely new results in response to the voluminous amounts of waste deposited there by currents in the Pacific Ocean. He created a large sculptural installation from the refuse he collected by subjecting it to taxonomic arrangement on the gallery floor. This monumental sculptural carpet of nearly 1,200 objects is accompanied by twelve large-scale gridded photographs of images of the individual objects in a studio setting, organized typologically by material, color, size, and so on. An additional grid photo documents the landscape from which the objects were retrieved, along with incidental compositions made in situ from the castaway items. Also on view is a video work, Whale after waves (2012), which illuminates the environment of Isla Arena.
Astroturf Constellation similarly explores taxonomic classification but on a completely different scale. It comprises a collection of miniscule bits of debris left behind by athletes and spectators in the Astroturf of a playing field in New York City. Orozco displays these myriad items, again numbering nearly 1,200, on a large platform. As in Sandstars, the objects are displayed alongside thirteen photographic grids, creating a visual ricochet between an individual object and its photographic representation.
The exhibition Asterisms overall, in which the two bodies of work play off each other in a provocative oscillation between the macro and the micro, invokes several of the artist’s recurring motifs, including the traces of erosion, poetic encounters with mundane materials, and the ever-present tension between nature and culture. It also underscores and amplifies Orozco’s subtle practice of subjecting the world to personal, idiosyncratic systems.