Shotgun Reviews

FOCUS: Mario García Torres at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. For the next five Sundays, our Shotgun Reviews will come from the finalists for the Daily Serving/Kadist Art Foundation Writing Fellowship in Mexico City. In today’s edition, author Leslie Moody Castro reviews the work of Mexico City–based artist Mario García Torres at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas.

Mario García Torres. The Schlieren Plot,n.d.; HD video and sound, 29 minutes. Courtesy of the Artist and Proyectos Monclova, Mexico.

Mario García Torres. The Schlieren Plot,n.d.; HD video and sound, 29 minutes. Courtesy of the Artist and Proyectos Monclova, Mexico.

There is an effect in simple physics that explains how invisible atmospheric gases become visible to the eye when they are confronted with similar mediums of differing densities. This effect is called the Schlieren Effect, and in his solo exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Mario García Torres metaphorically appropriates this theory to suspend histories, mythologies, and realities.

The Schlieren Plot (n.d.) is the central work around which the exhibition revolves. García Torres weaves together a narrative exploring artist Robert Smithson’s trajectory in the state of Texas, and of artistic mythologizing of the state itself. García Torres plays with possible histories and mythologies that were on the cusp of becoming realities; he suspends time to provoke a feeling of nostalgia for events that never actually occurred.

The video follows the story of a fictional gardener and expert on Robert Smithson‘s land work in Texas. Initially, the audience watches the gardner go about his day, but somewhere along a Texas highway the camera angle shifts and the audience is no longer watching the garner but has joined in on his pilgrimage to view the sites of Smithson’s would-have-been projects in Dallas/Fort Worth; and to view Amarillo Ramp (1974), Smithson’s only completed project in Texas, finished posthumously. The ephemerality of Amarillo Ramp is obvious in its erosion from the harsh Texas landscape. As a finished work it really lives in the plans and drawings made by Smithson, which are also part of the exhibition.

The fictitious gardener narrates the sojourn in a semi-organized train of thought, yet never mentions Smithson by name. The audio of the gardener’s narration is projected into the two adjacent galleries where García Torres has installed works on paper mixed with historical drawings and Smithson’s plans for unfinished works. García Torres’s gardener retells Smithson’s history, which acts as a second protagonist in the story; at the same time, the audience can see tangible proof of the work, which is either not completely finished or in a state of decay. These stories and methods operate together to blur the lines of fact and fiction.

García Torres creates a conceptual framework to explore the momentary nature of history. The journey of his fictitious gardener re-embodies the history of Smithson and his work, as ephemeral as the constantly changing Texas landscape that was once the artist’s source of inspiration.

FOCUS: Mario García Torres is on view at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through June 28, 2015.

Leslie Moody Castro is an independent curator and writer living and working in Mexico City. Writing is a critical component of Moody Castro’s practice and acts as a conduit for ideas, exchange, and to initiate conversation.

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