Miguel Ángel Ríos
Landlocked (2014), White Stones (2014), Mules (2014)
One of the key Argentinian artists Miguel Angel Ríos (Argentina, 1943) is the main hero of the second day of “Tedium” programme together with young and promising Adrián Balseca (Ecuador, 1989). Both of them focus their artistic research on exploring political and economic hierarchies of the world, with Adrián Balseca having more focus on the environmental aspect, Miguel Angel Ríos taking a sociological approach.
“Landlocked” (2014) offers a plunge into the raw and handmade aesthetics of Miguel Angel Ríos. In the centre of attention — a pack of dogs scuttling through a hillside at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. By the sound of screeching barking, the dogs start rigours digging of those hills in the urgency to get somewhere on the “other side”. Feeling of total claustrophobia transmits the feeling of frustration of the whole country, that lost its access to the Pacific Ocean that is only bear kilometres away more than 100 years ago as a result of the war. At the same time, the tunnels reminiscent of the border between Mexico and the United States were more than 80 underground passages were found.
For the video “White Stones” (2014) the artist produced more than 3,000 cement balls only to bring them down the mountain trails of Mexico and Argentina. Loudly rolling and bouncing, these white stones offer a range of metaphors: from streams of illegal migrants and drug trade routes between South and North Americas to natural wildebeest crossing. Talking about this work, the artists questions: Are we witnessing some kind of game? Or is it a catastrophe in the making? And Ríos gives the answer in his characteristically brutal, but humorous manner.
“Mules” (2014), the last work of the second day of the programme, offers the audience to follow the route of loaded mules, who wander the narrow paths. As opposed to rumbling sounds of “White Stones”, the paths are filled with the sounds of wind and footsteps. In Spanish, “mula” is slang for those, whom traffickers persuade to transport drugs across borders, so the artistic metaphor becomes vivid. And again, as in “Landlocked” (2014), some of the shots are taken by the cameras fixed to animals. It helps to increase the participation effect, making a viewer not only an observer but unwitting accomplice to the situation.