Artist: Rubén Grilo
Exhibition title: I am, etc.
Venue: Future Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Date: April 29 – June 17, 2017
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Future Gallery, Berlin
Part 1. Envy of the working class
After ten years of work, the young contemporary artist sat down to reflect upon the future. She had decided to spend her savings on the construction of a studio, in order to always have a place to work and end once and for all with the clutter of moving around. But now she realised that making a building, no matter how small, would resemble making a sculpture too much. “I will have to hire architects so that I can get some distance”, she thought, while she mentally went over synonyms of ‘delegating’ — like ‘handing over’, ‘subrogating’, or ‘commissioning’. Words with which she felt comfortable, used as she was to fabricating sophisticated conceptual frameworks. Doing so put some distance between herself and her own work.
Even knowing that she would be inevitably reflected in the width of the doors, in the height of the steps, and so forth, she still fantasized about different ways of not taking part. She had several ideas, until she decided that she would be at the service of the on-site architects, building the studio with her own hands. If her body was not able to disappear, at least her will could. She would confine herself to complying like a blue-collar worker. “Brick by brick, I will get rid of all the weight of the decision-making”, she told herself. And she conceited to the idea with a perfect mix of relief and shame.
Part 2. Joinery
She was ashamed to think that, by using her hands, she would no longer have to use her mind, because she knew that the work actually demanded great competence. And in order find out whether she was qualified, she imagined a list of construction materials and she ordered them accordingly to their qualities. “A building is the harmony between the internal unity of its connecting elements on one hand, and the insulating ones on the other”.
Until she discovered that some materials didn’t fit because they served more than one purpose. And then she remembered that neither the joints nor the strongest materials were the best ones. She thought of a car’s chassis crushing, and of the tempered glass smashing to protect its occupants, and of the wooden joineries, and of how important the flexibility of the joints was. And then she started to doubt all the junctures and all the insulation. She also thought of the importance of the substances and the intermediate states, of the joint fluids, of the grease on mechanical pieces; on tolerant, porous and breathable materials; on the membranes, the skin and the blood vessels; and she went on pondering until there were only exceptions left.
Part 3. I am system
Then she put down her coffee, and looking at her hand she verified that her Self remained intact despite her concerns. Like the image sprouting from pixels, or the figures that exist in spite of the changes in between the frames of a movie, the ego emerged against all odds. Whatever the juncture materials were, they were presented as a closed system and a continuation of ‘harmony between internal unity of its connecting elements on one hand, and the insulating ones on the other”. An unbreakable glue.
“In order to end with the biases, with the embarrassment of style, with property or nationalisms, first the subject must be put to an end”, she sentenced. “Will the Net help to dissolve it, or will it, on the contrary, foster and feed its myths? How to stop the machinery that pushes towards Self-production, to the capitalization and perpetual distribution of one’s own time? How to stop working when work is everything – what one knows how to do and what one can instantly know? How to escape ‘branding’, the permanent stamping? How to break the burden of labor past, in a world that primes profile consistency? When did I, so fiercely defending of political emancipation, start wishing to withdraw and confine myself to being your most humble and complying servant?
Ruben Grilo (Lugo 1981), lives and works in Berlin
Selected solo exhibitions include ‘Solo’, Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid (2017); ‘Proof of Concept’, Union Pacific, London (2016); ‘Rubén Grilo’, Fundació Joan Miró – Espai13, Barcelona (2015); ‘Mit eigener Hand’, Kunstverein Hildesheim (2014); ‘Drawings of Alien Control’, V4ULT, Berlin (2013); ‘The Need for Speed’, CIRCA Projects, Newcastle upon Tyne (2013); ‘Bioscope’ Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam (2012); ‘They’re Not All Funny, but They’re in a Row’ 1646 (La Haya) o ‘PowerPoint Karaoke’, MARCO, Vigo (2011). He has also participated in group shows at la Casa Encendida, Madrid (2017), el Künstlerhaus Halle für Künst & Medien, Graz (2015); Galerie Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam (2013); Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (2012); CSS Bard, New York (2011); CGAC, Santiago de Compostela (2009), amongst others.
Grilo has been a resident artist at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (2011-2013) and Gasworks, London (2015), and he has received the Fundación Botín grant, Santander (2013), the ARCO prize from Comunidad de Madrid (2016), and Generación 2017 prize