Art review: Marcos Ramirez 'ERRE' at LAXART
Responding to his native Mexico’s recent celebrations of its bicentennial and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, Marcos Ramirez "ERRE" (“ERRE” is based on the Spanish pronunciation of the first letter of the artist’s last name) has created a small group of sculptural works and a billboard at LAXART. They attempt to poke holes in the country’s national mythology with varying degrees of success.
The billboard is fine as billboards go. It depicts the logo from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics — an international showcase for any country — dripping with blood. Inside the gallery, there is a Mexican flag stripped of its symbolic crest, a commemorative plaque emblazoned with an ex-president’s cynical account of the Mexican Revolution, and a metal drain cover inscribed with “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses). All speak loud and clear of hopes dashed by corruption and perfidy, but they are by far too controlled and impassive to inspire further reflection or indignation.
Thankfully, the same is not true of the show’s centerpiece, a spinning carousel — like those found on children’s playgrounds, although this one is clearly not a toy. Motorized to revolve on its own at a scary pace, its surface is divided like a pie chart, each slice a different texture. About half is scarred with tar paper over wood, a quarter is rusted metal, and slimmer segments are represented by both stamped and perfectly smooth steel. The chart is a graphic depiction of wealth distribution in Mexico, and it’s easy to comprehend who occupies which slice. But the most affecting aspect of the work is the sound it makes — an egregious, painful screeching and groaning that suggests that although revolution may have proven meaningless, it nevertheless exacts a keen price.
-- Sharon Mizota
LAXART, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 559-0166, through June 25. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.laxart.org
Photos, from top: "Mexico," 2011, site-specific public billboard on La Cienega Boulevard. Credit: From the artist and LAXART, Los Angeles.
"How Many Revolutions?," 2011. Credit: From the artist and LAXART, Los Angeles. Photo: Kelly Barrie.