Born in 1980
Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico
A small stream of ants emerge from inside a man’s hand in the 1929 epic Surrealist film, Un Chien Andalou, by filmmaker Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dali. Buñuel was an amateur entomologist, but he was most interested in our social behavior and poetic encounters with nature. The classic film scene symbolized corruption and loss and foreshadowed the death of the main protagonist in the film. Indeed, throughout the film, bizarre animals and insects appear, such as dead donkeys on pianos, a sea urchin and a death-head moth. The film’s use of randomness, chance and anarchy reflected the cultural climate and rise of fascism in Europe during that era.
With a post-Surrealist approach, artist Gabriel Rico’s latest body of work mines a range of materials, from taxidermy animals and preserved insects to neon shapes and found natural objects, that together create environments addressing the relationship between nature, architecture and the future ruins of civilization. Looking at the behaviors and survival techniques of insects, such as the preying mantis, and animals like the South American fox, he creates settings that reveal complexities of the current human condition. The juxtaposition of diverse life forms infuses the objects with a humor and irony, reflective of the common struggle to attain equilibrium amidst the everyday challenges of life.
The title of the exhibition, DEAD, DEAD, LIVE, DEAD, refers to research methods developed by Katherine Pigg, ASU Life Sciences research scholar and rock star in the field of fossils, who deciphers ancient fossils and connects them to living organisms. As she explains, her primary job is to “find the living amongst the dead,” visually connecting contemporary plants or life to dead fossils.
Playing with the ideas of balance, connection and uncertainty, Rico’s work reflects the notion of an “inferior mirage.” He considers the exhibition as a mirage, not in the cliché way we often see in movies or novels, but rather the more intense and immediate human experience of crossing the desert. An immigrant’s journey through a vast desert with unbearable obstacles often leads to a mirage in the same way that the ants in Un Chien Andalou serve as an omen, predicting if you will live or you will die.