Krefeld, Alemania, 1972
The Kingdom, 2013
Permanent marker on paper
9 drawings: 61.5 × 87.5 × 4 cm each (framed)
Before he chose to dedicate his time to making art, Ignacio Uriarte studied business and worked in corporate offices where he observed the rituals of office life down to the most menial detail, and the way corporate work is organized so as to exemplify rational efficiency. Indeed, from the use of space to the minimal modernist aesthetics, the modern office space is emblematic of an economy that has shifted from industrial production to services. It has attempted to transpose the productivist principles of Fordism from the factory to the post-industrial workplace. American artists in the early 1960s such as Dan Flavin and Richard Artschwager appropriated the codes of this quintessentially modern idea, which also corresponds to the emergence of a trend in architecture known as International Style.
Whereas Flavin focused his interest on the fluorescent tube and Artschwager on laminated wood, Uriarte has chosen to borrow the A4 copy paper; the ballpoint in black, red, green and blue; the pencil, or the permanent marker. Beyond those archetypes of clerical work, in his practice however he explores the gestures and the limits of a model that has failed to reflect the necessities of individuals, the group dynamics, and the notion of professional satisfaction as essential to enhance productivity. His work therefore focuses on serial, repetitive tasks, resulting in a body of work carried out predominantly in series. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note how this representation of office work also marks the extraordinary shift that has occurred in the past few years, when both materials and practice have incorporated the computer screen and electronic communication. Hence, Uriarte’s work no longer is formally in sync with the contemporary workplace, and one is made to think more of the aesthetics of Conceptual Art – the work of Sol LeWitt or Hanne Darboven, among others. This series of nine drawings is carried out on A1 paper (the equivalent of 8 A4 sheets) and consists of a series of grids that somehow reflect on the impossibility of the perfect reproduction of a task by a human being.
Albareda Dock no/d,
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