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Ridiculum Vitae:

Curated by Rodrigo Aldán and Miguel Calderón

La Panadería 29 January - 28 February

By Keith Miller

First published in Art/Text

In "Ridiculum Vitae", the show "curated" by Rodrigo Aldán and Miguel Calderón, the two young artists expose themselves without adornment, almost without art. Taken from the concept of the "Curriculum Vitae" (C.V.), this is an irreverent look at being a young artist in a world that values the individual and his or her work in quite distinct terms.

The gallery has been carpeted with the C.V. of Miguel Calderón. The tapestry is a copy of his artistic achievements since he came of age as an artist, in the standard layout of such a text. He accompanies his installation with a large scale photo of the cover a typical school notebook, which shows a gleeful couple hand in hand in a bucolic paradise, a poster size transparency of the artist vomiting, and a certificate or award, reminiscent of fraternities, in commemoration of his beer drinking.

In the back of the gallery Rodrigo Aldán has installed a series of drawings and a text, all mounted on corrugated cardboard and sealed in plastic. The text is that of a gallery director explaining the promise of the young Aldán, and how after an experience in a Buddhist retreat he abandoned art making. The drawings, it turns out, are from this period of promise, and date from 1984 when the artist was 17 years old.

The combination of these elements is disparate and apparently inconsequential and that's the point. The artists take on the notion of artist-as-hero/product and reject it outright. The immense C.V. of Calderón is a simple and humorous statement: if the curriculum is the point of interest in one's 'career', here you have it. Aldán offers his early success as sacrificial lamb to the altars of market and meaning, wherein only one of the two can survive. The artists suggest that in this struggle the victor will always be the market unless both meaning and market lose significance and value.

The great librarian Jorge Luís Borges pointed out that naming a thing not only gives it life but can also give one power over it or even destroy it. When asked by Moses its' name, the anonymous deity responded "I am who I am". Moses asked the name of the unknown force, according to Borges, to have power over it. On a personal level the artist searches for that control as does the art market on a commercial level. The ability to name and by extension control production places one in a very comfortable position.

For the young artist that loss of power, as well as the whole relationship to the ambiguous forces of the art market, can be frustrating, belittling and comical. For the curators/artists of this show the smirking rebellion is an attempt to shed the garment of "success" and opt for a more direct manner of personal expression. One that disregards status, 'promise' and their C.V.