Mexico City, 1967; lives in Mexico City
set of 13 chairs
The work of Damián Ortega is firmly grounded in sculpture and experimentation, often with a humorous touch. In Ortegas practice, domestic sculptures act as imperfect mirrors to a lived reality, countering the heroic quest for conquest or transcendence. Ortega excavates meaning through materials, thereby proposing new sources of energy. Ortegas early home experiments in sculpture are demonstrated in the engineering feats of the series Puentes y presas (1997). Exploring balance and structure in the confines of his apartment, Ortega appropriated the energy of his living space by compulsively reorganizing furniture, boxes, jars of paint, baskets, and cords into unlikely dams, bridges, extensions, and arches and documenting several versions in the photographic series Construciones (1997), of which Obstáculo is a part. This temporary composition posits seven chairs and an inverted table in precarious balance like Chinese acrobats or evidence of a poltergeists antics to form an arch. In the sculpture Puente, also on view in this gallery, thirteen interdependent chairs suggest strength in numbers in their improbable deployment as the building blocks of a bridge, while undermining the monumentality of formal architecture. Made of and within the domestic territory, the scale of these works was originally limited by floors, walls, household items, and ceilings, amplifying the absurdity of their function while converting the artists manic need for transformation into possibilities of escape.