For PAMM’s double-height gallery, José Carlos Martinat created American Echo Chamber (2018), an installation that responds to the amplification and reinforcement of ideas in the current social and political landscape. This large-scale work is composed of mechanical light sculptures that collectively generate a dramatic and entertaining space for visual consumption. The sculptures are inspired by symbols of both American and Peruvian cultures ranging from historical images such as the political cartoon “Join, or Die” attributed to founding father Benjamin Franklin to popular internet memes. These symbols are often composed of images related to violence, manipulation, racism, or migration. The artist also includes artisanal pyrotechnic castle fireworks from Lima. By creating a space that amplifies the consumption of these symbols, Martinat compares the contemporary political scene to an echo chamber, emphasizing a dynamic in which people seek information from media outlets that reinforce their beliefs as an unconscious exercise of validation and prejudice
José Carlos Martinat: American Echo Chamber is organized by PAMM Associate Curator María Elena Ortíz with support provided by Revolver Galería. Ongoing support for PAMM’s Project Galleries from Knight Foundation is also gratefully acknowledged.
Jose Carlos Martinat’s art is at the interface of real and virtual worlds; his sources of inspiration are architecture and the urban milieu, human and cyberspace memories. His multimedia installations and sculptural assemblages incorporate a diversity of materials and strategies to alter preconceptions in regards to where things belong, he brings imprints meant for the street to the gallery, as an archeologist of sorts. This offhand methodology manifests in a number of manners.
Banner-like objects are made from transfers of political parties’ logos found in the city walls by means of lifting off the texture of the paint in resin. These Pintas are unmediated appropriations of political slogans fragments that end up pasted onto gallery walls.
The fascination with architectural modernism is matched in Martinat’s case by a penchant for a certain kitsch aesthetic that he articulates with the inclusion of tagging, strident colour and street art strategies. His Ejercicios Superficiales series encompasses a number of bodies of work in different mediums that generally evoke the idea of superficiality in the use of readymade surfaces covered in graffiti.
The superficiality of his intention – or rather his love of the surface – is also present in the sculptural composition Monumentos Vandalizables – Abstracción del Poder presented in the Mercosul Biennale of 2009, where fragments of emblematic buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the futuristic Brasilia are built in white coated wood, and subsequently offered to the exhibition visitors to spray paint over them with slogans, graffiti and other intervention techniques. The dirtying of the icon could appear like a rebel boutade that conversely serves to perpetuate the iconography of modernism. It could also be a liberating force in the face of the widespread abuse of power. (Bio: Gabriela Salgado)