but still I’d leap in front of a flyin’ bullet for you

Cruz Ortiz

Exhibition: Mar 23 – May 8, 2005


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.

-Kate Green

Assistant Curator

Artist

Cruz Ortiz

San Antonio, Texas, USA

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.Born in Houston, TX in 1972, Cruz Ortiz lives in San Antonio, TX, where he received his BFA from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2000. Solo shows include Dallas Center for Contemporary Art, TX (2003) and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, TX (2001). Group exhibitions include ev+a, Limerick, Ireland (2005); San Juan Triennial, Puerto Rico (2004); and San Antonio Museum of Art, TX (2001).
Cruz Ortiz also participated in the Winter 2005 Hudson (Show)Room Exhibition Spanglish.

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Curator

Victor Zamudio-Taylor

Mexico City, Mexico

Victor Zamudio-Taylor is an international curator of Latin American and contemporary art whose work addresses historical and current issues. An advisor to institutions and foundations, Zamudio-Taylor lectures widely in the United States and abroad, and is a member of the editorial board of Art Nexus and a co-editor of Origina, the Mexican arts monthly. He has organized project spaces for ARCO 03, 04 and 05, and recently co-produced The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo for broadcast this spring on PBS. He is chief curator of O-Lamm, a new video and photography space in Mexico City. Zamudio-Taylor publishes widely and has received numerous academic awards, among them the Rockefeller Foundation Senior Research Fellowship. Curatorial endeavors include Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, co-curated with Pedro Alonzo with venues at Rufino Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art, Mexico City and MARCO, Monterrey, Mexico in 2003; with Liz Armstrong, Ultra Baroque: Aspects of Post-Latin American Art, which opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA in 2000 and traveled widely; and with Virginia Fields, The Road to Aztlán: Art from a Mythic Homeland, which debuted at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA in 2001.

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