OAXACA—Linear actions of concrete shore up clay bricks, which stand in brutal contrast to a colorful, gentle sea of confetti in this vast and immersive diorama Tierra Vaga at the Fundación Casa Wabi in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca.
Intersecting natural materials from the region like tropical timber and local clay bricks with industrial materials like chain-link fence, confetti and gold wire, Belgian artist Michel François creates a conceptual and poetic landscape of Oaxaca’s Costa Chica, in which the juxtaposed amalgamation of elements yields a surreal environment.
With a conceptual tinge, the artist intervenes the object and material, twisting them, breaking them, hollowing them, solarizing them, and liberating them from their common forms and status. Those remnants of actions appear in the specific context of the Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s construction of lined concrete. In this way, his large installation reveals evoking social situations, political affairs and other developments related to it.
In addition to the sparkly confetti floor, through a large damaged fence, a border, opening one can see perforated wood through which, even further, one can see sprawling vegetation—real or imagined greener pastures, if you will.
The damaged fence, that is both a limit and a threshold, resembles Francois’ previous work where a cage represents subjectivity and human will. Here in Oaxaca the connotation shifts; “golden cage” is the term used by migrants travelling to the United States who reach the ultimate goal, the “American Dream” that costs them their freedom.
As described in his artist statement, François’ works solo exhibitions often point to his interest in contemporary reality, domestic environments, surveillance, psychology and the police state by transforming seemingly uncomplicated, accessible objects and materials into deeply resonant ones.
Casa Wabi writes François invited his colleague Harold Ancart to create the large mural of the diorama. Evoking Mexican Muralism, Ancart’s exotic landscape emphases the conditions its location—another referential intersection of reality and fiction.
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