Damián Ortega creates mind-blowing sculptures suspended in mid-air. His breakout hit, called Cosmic Thing, was created in 2002 and featured in the Venice Biennale in 2003. Take a look at it and you'll understand why it launched his career. Ortega finds a way to turn everyday objects into extraordinary pieces of art. As he says, “I'm interested in those very everyday attempts to produce meaning.”
It's interesting to note that Ortega began his career drawing political cartoons. In fact, it'll help you see the playfulness in his work.
In Cosmic Thing, Ortega disassembles a 1989 Volkswagen Beetle car and then reassembles it, piece by piece, but this time suspended from wire in mid-air. As a symbol of Westernization to Mexico, the native country of Ortega, the installation hoped to show the mass produced vehicle in a new light. Revealing how all these small objects come together to form the classic VW Bug, Ortega makes us appreciate small details while reminding us how objects can rust and waste away. (Humorously, Boston Globe called it a “car manual diagram brought to life.”)
Materialista is the word used in Mexico to describe a truck that transports construction materials. What our mind identifies as a truck is actually only the vehicle's chromed parts and the space between them. The radiator, the bumpers, the mud flaps, the mirrors – all of the chromed parts – are hung, suspended in air.
Champ de Vision
Take a step back and you'll see something staring right back at you. Called Champ de Vision, this installation can be enjoyed both by walking through it and by stepping away from it. A space filled with 6,000 colored modules are suspended from the ceiling. At the far end of the room, visitors pass behind a partition, from where they view the installation through a lens. The viewer is meant to experience the very process of perception that links eye to brain.
Controller of the Universe
This installation consists of dozens of hand tools suspended in air, pointing outward as though in mid-explosion. Ortega bought the tools at a Berlin flea markets. It was part of the “That Was Then … This Is Now” exhibit, an effort to extend the activist spirit of the Vietnam War protest days into the Iraq war era.
What do you think of Ortega's art?