"In mid-May 2019 we heard the slogan "May You Live in Interesting Times" chosen by curator Ralph Rugoff for the 58th Venice Biennale. Looking back on it today, it seems that this so-called curse was a prediction of what was to come.
In the monotony of confinement, I felt obliged to enter a process of reflection and self-knowledge which many of us had left aside because of the hectic life we were leading. When I look at my work, I inevitably see myself reflected in the characters I portray; these people who look like barcodes with a diffuse and almost non-existent identity, collectively wandering through non-places (massive and transit spaces such as subways, airports, highways, etc.), but paradoxically in such a solitary way and diluted in the crowd. So I wonder, what would happen if this character suddenly came out of that everyday life and found himself immersed in a different scenario that forced him to confront himself? Would he be able to observe and connect with a world he had turned his back on? Would he be able to discover his identity or would he be so programmed for a life where inertia prevents him from questioning the way he conducts his existence?."
CDMX V, from the series ‘Faded’
150 x 117 cms (unframed, including passe partout)
About the series
Felipe Lavín makes use of video and photography as social radiography of neoliberalism, by straining the relation between human singu- larity and the public architectural landscape, using evocative images if the existential condition of the contemporary subject: being mass and individual all at the same time. In this sense, his academic background in Civil Engineering and his self-taught interest for photography has provided him of a rigorous and creative clarity when reflecting upon the human condition and its intersections with the code of the image and space. By understanding the biopolitical dimension of architecture as a sensitive diagram for urban experience -filtered by the potential of the moving picture as a poetic approximation to the real- F.Lavín proposes a representative diagnosis of the crisis of hu- manism in the age of global capitalism. As Marshall Berman pointed out regarding the third stage of modernity: It is the paradox of unity within detachment. This is the fundamental concern turned into a motif by the artist: If we have become non-people that transit through non-places, we are both united and condemned by a solitude that collectivizes us.
The Faded project not only brings up a social question, but an optical one, which could have been interesting to the likes of the Lumiere bros. or even to Matilde Pérez, an iconic representative of kinetic art in Chile. The series of video-photographic registers of F.Lavín can also be read in the artistic intersection of both traditions: the european ethnographic documentary alongside the latin american geometric abstraction are both condensed into a same image. Workers leaving the factory, whose chromatic subjectivities fade into straight lines that transcend their daily flux. What does it remain if we trace a fictional horizon, separating the figurative from the abstract elements in the work? Simply put, vertical color bars that disrupt our gaze, since we ignore their orientation in regard of the bodies, What is certain is that all the physical possibilities -unresolved but still suggested in the image- imply strong relations in the symbolic level. This way, F.Lavín allows the viewer for a playful possibility to engage and take part in a dispute between two opposing forces, within a general landscape of positives and negatives where it is increasingly difficult to find intermediate areas. Even though we dwell in non-places, it is up to us to resignify them, and hence stop being non-people.
Antonio Urrutia Luxoro
Independent Curator and editor.