Champ de Vision
Damián Ortega Part 2
Anna Hiddleston + Sinziana Ravini, October 18, 2010
AH & SR.: Among the artists who have explicitly worked with the politics of colour and perception, Jesús Rafael Soto, Yayoi Kusama, Bridget Riley, Yaacov Agam, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Helio Oiticica, which ones do you feel closest to, and why?

DO.: I would put Oiticica first, since he is the one I find most interesting. For example, the Parangoles attempted to generate an event – a demystified, de-dramatised, de-ritualised object-event – open to experimentation and bodily participation. Rather than being about representation, it was about a real and collective experience. As far as I know, he was not at all interested in Op art. He found it simplistic, to do with mechanical stimulation and reaction, like a game. What was important for him was the notion of participation and action, which awakens feelings and opens channels of perception. There is a huge difference between including a participant and implicating a spectator who ends up being manipulated and becoming an accessory of the work. I have loved Bridget Riley since childhood. The massive plagiarism of her work is a part of my childhood memory (not as a work of art, but as the image of my aunt’s bag, the wrapping paper for my school notebooks, etc.). The image of the Mexican Olympic Games in 1968 was a copy of her works. Goethe looked through a prism and was concerned with understanding what his eye saw subjectively. He stressed that colour is not about light alone but also about how we perceive it.

AH & SR.: Which colour theorist do you feel most related to? If neither of them, which are your scientific and theoretical sources of inspiration?

DO.: In my opinion, the most important aspect of this piece has to do with our perception of specific moments, and how these moments are determined by the ‘illuminants’, that is to say the context in its widest sense. It is a total phenomenon. Art is not just an “object”, it is a “work”, which implies a system of relations. In this system, the object stops being something already known, and becomes new knowledge. This is a complex phenomenon, which cannot be understood only in terms of perception. Things are not fixed, defined and absolute. Things continuously are, and this implies their ability to change and, at the same time, the unavoidable and unpredictable condition of change.

AH & SR.: What kind of experience do you want to evoke through your art? Which possible journeys can one undertake through your art?

DO.: I would like to provoke the same feelings I have, in other people. I want to do a work that makes you laugh or infuriates you, that makes you feel fear or nostalgia, that gives you a heroic feeling, or even a macho attitude, vile and cowardly. This is what art is for: to create a field of recognition. In the case of Champ de vision, I would like it to feel like an ethereal space, something colourful but at the same time contained within a limited area, hundreds of modules floating like atoms. I imagine it like condensed gas suspended in the air, and forming a conical figure, like a swarm of bees: something big and spatial.

AH & SR.: You have transformed many heroic symbols into prosaic objects, or used and displaced monuments as in Transportable Obelisk, 1996. Failure seems to be very central to your artwork. How do your latest works relate to failure and heroism? Which risks do you take and which ones are you not willing to take?

DO.: The obelisk is a symbol of stability and it is also a point of reference. It is a totem, situated in the centre of the town, commemorating the foundation of the city or a memorable event. This element irradiates a particular energy, which means it is protected and preserved; it delineates a territory defended by the tribe, around which objects are organised. This zone of control generates a sense of belonging, of nationhood, of religion, and it brings people together under its shade, rejecting those beyond its reach. The phallic axe determines the hierarchies of the tribe: those who are closer receive more benefits, those who are further away, live a mistaken life. Its shade contains and outlines the border.

AH & SR.: What happens if the monolith is detached, and displaced from its original place, extracted like a wisdom tooth? Where does all that system of values and hierarchies go?

DO.: I think the risk in art is to do what you really want to do and keep going in spite of what
other people say, whether what you are doing is rubbish or wonderful and people shower you in flattery. It is one’s own responsibility.

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