Condo London 2017

Multiple venues, 14 January – 11 February 2017


Oscar Murillo, Human Resources, 2016. Image Courtesy Carlos Ishikawa and the artist.

A circle of blank, wide-eyed faces stares at you, a wooden seating arena filling up the Carlos Ishikawa gallery peopled with puffy, scarecrow-like bodies. They have round, papier-mâché heads painted shades of brown and black with felt hair and eyebrows, most of them outfitted with rubber boots and factory uniforms. The living people sitting on the structure blended in, adding to a sense of unease, then one burly man sauntered in and began to sing in what sounded like a medley of love songs in Spanish. It was as if we had temporarily tuned into a faraway radio station. After a few minutes, he finished, muttered a small thank you, and left. Oscar Murillo’s installation Human Resources, 2016, is one of the highlights of ‘Condo’, if only simply because it is the biggest. As per the usual for the ‘socially engaged’ side of Murillo’s practice when he’s not painting, these figures have supposedly been made by people in his home town in Colombia, as apparent representations of themselves. At the centre of the room was a miniature Aztec ziggurat encircled by a crudely assembled roller coaster. ‘Azteca Ride’, letters on the side of Japanese artist Yutaka Sone’s untitled 2016 sculpture proclaim (brought by Tommy Simoens gallery of Antwerp); here, we were in a sort of South American amusement park, entertained by exotic workers and ancient history. The pairing of works might have been intended as a critique to such fetishisations, but it felt like more a joke at the artists’ expense. Continue reading

Uri Aran: Doctor, Dog, Sandwich

“I’ve discovered,” claims the haughty voice-over of Uri Aran’s video Harry, 2007, “I can provoke just a bit, but with a certain charm or grace it will go unpunished.” This cheeky brinksmanship runs through the sculptures, drawings and videos in Aran’s exhibition Doctor, Dog, Sandwich [Mother’s Tankstation; 15 September – 30 October, 2010]. Works that are at times trying, dissipated, wilfully obscure or just plain absurd are balanced, or at least slightly reined in, by also being playfully open-ended and gently humorous. Cumulatively, they manage to construct a comprehensive, if unsettling, sort of non-sense. His repeated use of horses, dogs, and cookies throughout the show gives a heavy whiff of adolescence, like one of those innocuous posters of cute puppies found in a girl’s bedroom.  But in Aran’s work, it’s as if someone has snuck into the bedroom in the middle of night and replaced the ‘Hang in there!’ words of dainty encouragement on the poster with random gibberish, something like ‘Idiot boat turtle’, leaving us as witnesses to an indefinable crime and with a vague sense of violation.

Uri Aran, Untitled (D), 2010, computer drawing, inkjet print. Image courtesy Mother's Tankstation.

Uri Aran, Untitled (D), 2010, computer drawing, inkjet print. Image courtesy Mother’s Tankstation.

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