Cruz Ortiz uses print, performance, and video to embrace issues relating to his experience growing up in the bicultural landscape of South Texas. Replacing classical icons with symbols of contemporary pop culture such as taco trucks, canned beans, and an alter ego named Spaztek, Ortiz’s work maintains a tense relationship with consumerism and his heritage. One is never sure whether he is selling an idea, a product, or a revolution.
While much of Ortiz’s work has focused on the idea and efficacy of protests in the post-Civil Rights era, a related strain explores the type of melancholic love sung about in Conjunto, Tejano, and Country music. Through videos and prints Spaztek futilely chases amor just as protestors long to create change. With a methodological approach that often forsakes institutional space for guerilla tactics and public outreach, Ortiz’s work is multi-layered, cross-cultural, and unconventionally charged.
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