Blogging Blaffer

Buildering’s Playful, Iconoclastic Side

Ivan Argote (b.1983 Bogota, Colombia  /  Lives: Paris, France) Altruisme, 2011 Video [1:20] Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
Ivan Argote, Altruisme, 2011
Video [1:20]. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin

As mentioned in Tuesday’s entry, not all of the work in our upcoming exhibition Buildering: Misbehaving the City documents or depicts the kind of daredevil athleticism associated with the term “buildering.” Still, the fleeting, potentially subversive presence of bodies in built environments remains a key thread that unites different artists’ very different practices.

While Egle Budvytyte blurred the lines between theater and documentary in her quasi-ethnographic video Leap by casting a group of young male parkour practitioners as a mysterious family of “jump children,” Colombian-born, Paris-based artist Ivan Argote is one of several Buildering artists who curator Steven Matijcio says “employ playful iconoclasm to pierce the social paranoia that pushes us apart.”

Sometimes Argote’s iconoclasm has a political bite, as in Turistas (Isabel giving a contract, and Christopher pointing out the south, at Bogota), a pair of photographs documenting his alterations to Bogota monuments to Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella. (He draped them with colorful ponchos from the Andes.)

In other cases, there seems to be an absurdist romanticism at play. Take, for example, Altruisme, in which Argote gets up close and personal with a subway pole that’s been grasped by countless passengers’ hands.

“Although ordinary, this bar contains the disgust that people carry against each other and appears as the symbol of repulsion,” Argote has said. “Kissing this bar in such a passionate way was a reconciliation gesture for me. A gesture of love that even becomes even sexual. It all aims to thwart the disgust of the other.

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