• León Ferrari & Ricardo Pons, Casa Blanca, 2005, video

    León Ferrari & Ricardo Pons, Casa Blanca, 2005, video

León Ferrari & Ricardo Pons

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posted on 08/14/2014
Criticism of North-American imperialism is the core of the collaboration between the artists

One of Latin America’s most questioning artists, Argentina’s León Ferrari has left a politically inclined body of work that translates into different mediums. Wars, religion, tyrannical governments and the overpowering influence of the United States have all been criticized by Ferrari, who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2007. His work is part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), Daros Latinamerica (Zurich, Switzerland), Tate Gallery (London, United Kingdom) and Museo de Arte Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

León Ferrari questions his own art cyclically throughout his career. In 1964, the artist reacted against the painting genre with Cuadro Escrito. The piece is a description of León Ferrari’s ideal painting, using words written in ink on paper. The curator Luis Pérez-Oramas, who organized the book León Ferrari and Mira Schendel: Tangled Alphabets, quotes curator Mari Carmen Ramirez in ranking Cuadro Escrito as a Latin American predecessor of conceptual art. In 2004, in collaboration with the musician and audio-visual artist Ricardo Pons, he once again tests the boundaries and methods of painting by laying live worms on the white canvas. Ferrari stated that as Pons filmed them, the worms would move and cover the pictorial surface, creating a “quicksand picture.”

The video Casa Blanca (2005) is a development of this experiment. In consonance with his anti-imperialist political stance, Ferrari unleashes worms upon a 3D scale model of the White House, the ultimate symbol of United States power, an action once again recorded in video by Pons. The soundtrack is based on audio from a performance presented by Ferrari in Brazil in the 1980s: the sound of Ferrari striking his own wire sculptures.

Created during the George W. Bush administration, Casa Blanca is reminiscent of monster and alien invasions in horror movies. The goal, Ricardo Pons tells PLATFORM:VB, “is to tease the viewer by having insects desecrate religious and capitalist icons.”

Inés Katzenstein, the curator who wrote an essay on the piece for the Unerasable Memories book, considers Casa Blanca to be classical León Ferrari “in his high level of metaphorical and technical simplicity, his complete abandonment in saying exactly what he wants to say, his allowing himself to imagine a three-minute fantasy of destroying the center of power, all the while never erasing the political message in favor of art.” Casa Blanca became part of the Videobrasil Collection during the 16th edition of the Festival (2007).


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