Untitled (Totem II)
Salt bar, pedestal, scales, tools,
white towel and water container
This piece’s central element is a huge block of salt on a pedestal, positioned in a space of almost aseptic lighting and neatness. In evoking the idea of the totem, the block suggests a possible belief system that, although it could be shared, works differently for each individual. The viewer has the option of using the tools provided to remove a portion of the work, as long as he agrees to pay for the fraction in accordance with the equivalenc- es established for weight and cost. Wasting salt an act associated with bad luck becomes linked to a system of symbolic values defined by a force as intangible as the desires of those who break off and keep this salt as if they were part of an absurd cult. The piece combines the banality of an everyday product with the idea of exclusivity associated with a singular sculptural object, revealing the mechanisms at work in the art market through a ceremony of commercial worship.
It might seem that our present moment is characterized by an intense need to say. A kind of anxiety fills the spaces belonging to the young (and the less young). They throw themselves around, hit each other, put their feet in their mouths, and struggle to be the first ones to say. On more than one occasion, I’ve tried to understand what it is they want to say. I stand before something I can’t manage to decipher. I’ve wondered whether there is, indeed, something to decipher. I also wonder if we shouldn’t return to the question about what we can say, what is given to us to say (Foucault), return in order to understand that we can’t say everything at any given point, in any given place. If the place of discourse is a place of strangeness and ideas fall into this space, why is it, then, that it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a specific statement spoken from that anxiety where someone wants to say something. The best activity, in the horizontality of such spaces, is to pass along the microphone with a pleasant, ironic smile (in a position of desire, the smile becomes nervous laughter, never a guffaw).
For years now, Fritzia Irizar’s work has been searching for a specific place from which to say something. Her sentences and statements generally pass through a kind of concealment, as if in order to say something it were necessary to “store,” somewhere in the discourse, the clue allowing us to assemble the meaning of the things arranged there, offered up in their condition of possibility. The reader/viewer must go in to carry out this search, to find the key that will permit access to the clue. Several pieces of Fritzia’s come to mind, but especially Untitled (Totem II), a piece that, as I see it, contains conse- quences of Untitled (Totem I), work produced in Brussels for a group exhibition of Mexican artists. Irizar’s work doesn’t generally leave room for errors in its meaning-producing mechanism, which moves from one point to another in a precise direc- tion. I’m sure this working mechanism serves her very well, like a perfectly oiled machine. Fortunately, that’s not what art is; I think it’s a space populated by open ended statements that must be tested in order to investigate their possible arrangements within any viewer’s complex universe.
Totem II is a clinical piece. Fritzia says it deals with capitalism in the Americas and the destruction of idols. I’ve always thought that it involves a whisper, telling us things we’ll never be able to know because we barely want to know them; if we are literally destroying those idols, I’m not sure, but I think the idols themselves are “there” to be tested, so that we can try to determine who will keep them as idols. If the visitors to this piece hadn’t struck and broken this “idol,” would it exist in its minimalist sculptural potential?
I’ve always believed that we must go back and think from within the strangeness of art before we can open up that space of possibility, that place from which something can be said.
Totem II (Or the Possibility of Saying)
Luis Felipe Ortega