Restless is a series of ten gelatin silver photographs based on the life of Muñoz Ordoqui’s grandfather, a Cuban exile. The artist draws upon images from his family’s archives, tactile materials, and portraits of present-day environments to blur the distinction between the past and present, the political and personal.
In Wine and Water (Paris, France 1956, Austin, TX 2006), the artist presents a critical, yet intimate view of political internalization. The image depicts Muñoz Ordoqui’s grandfather, seated in front of a mirror and staring with a perplexed look at two female figures. Near his grandfather, the artist has inserted a water-marked glass, referencing the baptismal watermark, a Catholic symbol of religious association. This alludes subtly to the man’s undying commitment, in this case to leftist ideology. For many, political affiliation is a matter of personal philosophy.
The artist’s use of multiple materials in The Agreement (with vertical drawer) (Moscow, Soviet Union April 28, 1962, Austin, TX 2006), draws a visual parallel to the ulterior motives behind tenuous political relationships. The left figure, Muñoz Ordoqui’s grandfather, is projected onto shrouds of fabric, while his counterpart, former chief director of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, is marked by torn paper. The alternating use of texture forecasts the failure of the pact and speaks to the superficial nature of such agreements.
In Sand and Soil (Havana, Cuba 1940s, Yucatán, Mexico 2006, San Antonio, TX 2007), the artist has eerily merged an image of a casual gathering on the beach with San Antonio’s City Cemetery. Muñoz-Ordoqui’s seamless photographic layering redirects the figures’ seaward gaze toward a menagerie of tombstones, evoking a sense of eminent doom. The superimposition of an American cemetery onto an image of Cuba’s beaches furthers the subject’s ongoing sense of displacement.
Restless provides an intimate look into the artist’s familial environment to reveal the interconnection of personal histories and recurring outside events.