Apr 27, 2009

Public Intervention: Who Am I?

"In Your Own Image" is the latest project of Bert Rodríguez, a conceptual artist based in Miami. Let me put something straight: even when Rodriguez has participated twice of Art Basel in Miami and was also part of the Whitney Biennial, most of the time his work is not exactly what I consider art. Simply put, he is one of those artists so "out there" that some of his projects seem to me more like a mockery of the art scene but not really art.

Nevertheless, this is not the case. This last project took place in Paris, where Rodriguez distributed in shops, cafes, and bars a postage paid card of himself without his hair. On the opposite side of the postcard were the instructions inviting the public, to "complete" the image by adding elements (hairstyle, clothing, accessories, make-up) using any drawing tools they desire.

The results are now on display at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, until June 14th. The exhibition includes 134 of the postcards returned to the artist. Here some highlights.

1. As an Saint - It may look like a pretty simple doodle but what makes this intervention different is the signature. Whoever did this one, signed as the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

2. As a Devil - Of course someone saw the devilish side of the artist and this intervention required just a red marker.

3. As a pop-star - One of the most elaborated interventions: whoever work on this one saw a pop-star in the making.

I truly love this idea. On the one hand it works on the real world with a concept pretty pretty popular on the online world: it is almost like an "open source" art, where anybody can add their vision to the basic being offered. A personal intervention without any guidelines.

On the other hand, the whole thing reminded me of a very popular song from Divididos, "Que ves cuando me ves" title that can be translated as "What do you see when you see me?". If there is something that during my teenage years helped me to be myself and to not cave into peer pressure was the knowledge (or the belief) that no matter how I am, people will see me in very different ways just because we see things from our own point of view and from our own experience. So I decided early on to be "myself", meaning by that to follow my own instincts and to make my own determinations, for good or for bad.

In a slightly different way this art project works under the same idea: a big chunk of "who we are" -according to others-, is in fact in the eye of the beholder. We can be saints or devils and in fact chances are we are, at least for someone out there.

More about Bert Rodriguez previous work.

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