I believe I am a romantic
I shop as an artistic practice. What I like about the things I buy is their attitude. Today, everything is susceptible to reproduction and is over-aestheticized. The allure of imagery and objects is what blindfolds us not only in public but in private as well. Production lines, the market, commodities, advertisements, and all design and display decisions interest me. For this reason, my work uses what is attractive to the masses and me as only part of its appeal. By adding more and more layers, I distort what is already distorted. If the world is twisted at times, why not view it with a little bit of humor? I’m able to make jokes without smiling.
I want to talk about the world in a paradoxical way. With a “bouncy” attitude, I choose images from mass culture to talk about politics, art, painting, cultural issues, taste, the material world, pleasure, power, sexuality, gender and the role of the artist’s external life in the larger culture. I give the viewer an active role and contrast what they see with their own experiences and preconceptions. My work looks like something from now, something commercial, like a poster or a postcard, cold and playful, maybe provocative, and attractive at first sigh. I am interested in ambivalence and contradiction.
I analyze, I observe, I collect and I frame. I treat my art like my Facebook profile, preferring to put things off-center in both literal and conceptual ways. The juxtaposition of art materials and daily-life materials put them in the same category. Industrial products, mixed images, advertisement, something done by someone else, can all look saturated, even garish. I guess I just make it more explicit. Remember: too much sugar could take off your legs.
I am very interested in the theory and history of art and life. Dada is probably my largest influence, then Fluxus, 1960s Pop like Claes Oldenburg or Andy Warhol, then Joseph Kosuth, Bruce Nauman, Piero Manzoni, Richard Prince, Santiago Sierra, Félix González Torres, Cildo Meireles, Kay Rosen, Larry Johnson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Paul McCarthy, Barbara Kruger, John Baldessari, Martin Kippenberger, Mike Kelley, Ken Lum, Jeff Koons, and Nancy Dwyer, all in combination with the Baroque, Neoclassicism and, of course, Fragonard .
The very notion of art is determined by decisions you don’t make, this becomes more evident if you are not from the Northern Hemisphere, the limitations to make decolonized decisions in the art field, show us that there is no way to alter the system or to be outside the system. And once assimilated the impossibility to make truly decolonized art, for the fact that there is always an expectation you can not control. In my art I explore these difficult matters not in order to solve them, but to implicitly highlight their deep entanglement with social relations of power and exploitation. My Art is more about a mood or an attitude than specific narratives.
There is always a discourse of power behind, and as an artist I feel that I need to understand what my place is in the institutional system of production, the contemporary economic system in other words. We understand our condition in external terms, so it is a problem of representation, we are using the representational terms of “the conqueror”. As a Latin American artist, I’m interested in images and how they are a construction, in cosmetics instead of aesthetics, in the nature of all of these issues as images.
I’m not going to talk about hunger, because I can’t and the people who live their lives struggling to survive can’t either – they perceive themselves through a very complex production of images about their own reality. I don’t have the tools and I don’t want to victimize anyone. In this case, I’m more interested in the images of “hunger” we have in the general imagination. There is a double (or more) distance to distort a distorted reality. And I want to work with the surface, the very superficial. Because I think it is impossible to represent hunger in terms colonization can not reduce. Acknowledging that this condition can not be changed, not because we do not want to, but because we are broken – we are sick. We can only use the media of representation that are available, and to use and question the media of representation you are already making a political decision. What are the possibilities of the medium? It is hard to capture a subject through image, to show the content of the representation but the tools of representation itself.
Juan Camilo Guzmán