For the installation but still I’d leap in front of a flyin’ bullet for you, Cruz Ortiz uses screen prints, videos, performance, and homemade signs in Spaztek’s quest to understand the world and his relationships. The electric colors and quick handcrafted aesthetic opens a conversation with the populist history of “Chicano” art and culture inflected by a postmodern, Punk understanding.
The installation employs the venerable tradition of storytelling while staging a thoroughly contemporary assault on the senses. Gallery walls have been plastered with a series of four-foot wide hand-pulled screen prints offering glimpses of Spaztek’s life. Grainy photos inked in black show Devil Girl, his sassy tormentor/sweetheart with horns, putting on lipstick, hanging out with friends, and tempting with sultry stares. Texts and signs articulate Spaztek’s forlorn nature. Soy un boring lover is spelled in enormous block letters on red paper while necio (rowdy or silly) is sculpted in cardboard.
The story continues with video works projected five feet wide on free-standing red and white billboards. On one, a live web cam streams scenes of devil girls drinking at a local dive bar while the other features the video Spaztek finds his heart burning in the parking lot, a dizzying, six-minute series of quick cuts. The character numbs heartache with tequila, stumbles around in search of his heart, and finally finds it as a burning tire.
Through Spaztek, Ortiz approaches fundamental questions about what we live for—love or the chase, action or effort—all the while exploring what “Chicano” art is in the contemporary moment.