March 2009, Ignacio Uriate @ Feinkost

March 2009, Ignacio Uriate @ Feinkost
A4 Cycle in four whites (detail), 2009, Rolls of paper, 252 x 162 x 60 cm, Edition 1/3 + AP


Ignacio Uriarte
9 to 5
Galerie Feinkost
Through February 2009
“Office art” is a category most artists would dread to find themselves placed in. Not Ignacio Uriarte, whose first solo show in Germany titled 9 to 5, can be seen at Feinkost in Berlin. Now to be fair to Uriarte, there are no pastel abstract paintings or vaguely Impressionistic seascapes to be found. The work in this show was more likely to have been made in the office, rather than to be found hanging on the cubicle wall. Uriarte employs commonplace office supplies, such as ballpoint pens and highlighters, the Xerox machine, a writing block, A4 sheets of paper, and stationary. In the best cases, these materials retain their psychological resonance with the office while undergoing a transformation.  When the material is at once immediately recognizable and surprising. Red Circle Drawing, combines the humiliation (or sadistic joy – depending on which side of the pen you are on) of the correction pen with a rhythmic formal meditation that is reminiscent of Louise Bourgeois’ insomnia drawings. The centerpiece of 9 to 5 is the sculpture A4 Cycle in four whites. A bed of paper rolls in varying shades of white creates an optically dazzling topography.  The effect is impressive despite the modest means. Red Circle Drawing could even be read as a cartographic representation of this sculpture. 

The marking of time is a striking feature in Uriarte’s work, which begs the question: Whose time and under what conditions? One can imagine that this work was made with stolen time; that is, made in the office while the artist is supposedly “working” (potentially paid by the hour?) the day job. This fantasy of transgression may be staged, but it does call into question commonplace expressions such as: “buying time” or “spending time” and even “stealing time.” The office activity of pressing one’s buttocks against the Xerox bed is a rejection of the assumption that when one is confined to an office from 9 to 5 with only office supplies at hand, work will be done. Uriarte’s video Black Oval, animated by 300 photocopies, takes this logic a step further to say: “work will be done, but it will be degenerate and to my own ends.” If we are to indulge in the fantasy of transgression, then we could say the time it took to make the 300 photocopies was not wasted, but stolen, as the result is now for sale in a gallery. But Uriarte is an artist, with simultaneous shows in Spain, Italy and Germany.  This paradoxical relationship to time seems to be at the crux of the exhibition. Tactics for wasting time or stealing time in the office diverted to spending time in the studio. The materials of office supplies redeployed with a Formalist vocabulary, a sensitivity to materiality, and some knowing nods to recent art history. 


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Mira O'Brien

MIRA O'BRIEN is an artist currently living in Berlin. She received her MFA from Yale University. Past research includes traveling across the desert in Uzbekistan to witness the disappearance of the Aral Sea.

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