Roman Road is pleased to present Shutdown!, the first solo exhibition by Marie Orensanz with the gallery. Featuring selected works from the 1970s to the present day, the show looks at how an early discovery of the political power of words made a lasting impression on Orensanz’ conceptual practice.
During the turbulent and oppressive years of Onganía’s dictatorial rule in Argentina (1966-1970), Orensanz created her installation El pueblo de la Gallareta (The village of Gallareta, 1969), following a poignant encounter with workers from a small village in the Santa Fe province. The workers gave her a pamphlet that contained the following text: “The people of La Gallareta fight for their sole source of employment.” Her installation, in which she reproduced these words on the walls of a gallery, was in ode to these villagers, who were imminently losing their livelihoods since the factories where they worked were about to close their doors. The day after its opening, Orensanz’ exhibition was shutdown, stopping any further interaction with this consequential phrase.
Beginning with that installation, words have continued to reappear in Orensanz’ later works. In the 1970s, when she moved to Italy and began to develop her unique sculptural language, her works started to display only parts of sentences or fragmented text; isolated and combined with symbols, words and letters are separated from their intrinsic meanings and form new associations in the viewer’s mind. Her drawings, minimalistic and diagrammatic, often seem nonsensical, but together they hint at a whole that is never entirely revealed. They push the viewer to interpret the work on their own terms and refuse to allow one reading of the work to be dominant, or to be rendered censorable.
Shutdown! presents a collection of sculptural and framed works from Orensanz' oeuvre, including a variation of Pensar es un hecho revolucionario, a piece from 1974, recently shown in Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. The exhibition opens on Wednesday 21 February and will be on display at Roman Road until 24 March 2018.