The Body of Crime

Marcos Ramírez

Exhibition: Jul 10 – Sep 7, 2008

ERRE’s Artpace exhibition, The Body of Crime, consists of several interrelated works: a sculptural installation, a video projection, photographs, and audio elements, all of which relate to a fictitious crime scene set along the United States/Mexico border. Appropriating forensic methods and strategies, ERRE assumes an objective viewpoint while at the same time questioning—and forcing the viewer to question—the role of such an observer in creating meaning and defining character. The exhibition extends the artist’s ongoing practice of leading viewers to recognize how changes in context create changes in meaning.

Embedded in the installation is a video work titled The Black Suburban, which portrays the investigation of a fictitious assassination associated with the drug cartels in Mexico; elements of the crime are on display in the gallery. The film’s narrative explores the moral ambiguity of the three characters involved, all played by ERRE: the assassin, the policeman, and the victim. In contrast to commercial crime epics of violent bloodshed that saturate popular culture, the personas and staging in ERRE’s film are mundane, even barren, more accurately reflecting the grim reality of the drug war.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a sculptural installation made up of a Chevrolet Suburban, various forensic materials, and bullet shells engraved with the names of victims of the drug war, all of which reference the video and allow viewers to contemplate a re-creation of the event. The car radio plays a narcocorridos soundtrack alluding to the real lives of drug smugglers as it draws on the almost century-old Mexican corridos (ballads based on polkas and waltzes featuring lyrics backed by accordions and brass bands). During the Mexican Revolution of 1910, hundreds of corridos were sung about legendary figures like Emiliano Zapata and General Francisco “Pancho” Villa. In narcocorrido lyrics, however, individuals such as the Arellano-Felix brothers, who ran a drug cartel in the frontier town of Tijuana, are the ones heavily featured.

The last element in the installation comprises photographs of the video’s three protagonists—faux reproductions of a police department mug shot, an employee identification card, and a candid family snapshot. As in his video, ERRE is ever present here, yet never clearly one person or the other, highlighting the masquerade of identity and the instability of truth.

–Emily Morrison, Curatorial Assistant and Lori Salmon, Graduate Intern


Marcos Ramírez

Tijuana, Mexico

Marcos Ramírez ERRE, works in a constantly evolving lexicon of formats and media to explore the role of history, communication, economics, and militarism in the development of cultural stereotypes, and those stereotypes’ subsequent role in border control policies and conflicts.
Ramírez was born in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1961. He received his law degree from Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Tijuana, Mexico. The artist has had solo exhibitions at EDS Galeria, Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico (2006); University of Texas, El Paso, TX (2005); and Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (1999). Ramírez’s work has been included in We Are Your Future, Second Moscow Biennial, Moscow, Russia (2007); VI and VII Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (1998, 2000), The Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2000); and inSITE, San Diego, CA, and Tijuana, Mexico (1994,97).

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Lauri Firstenberg

Los Angeles, CA

Lauri Firstenberg received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University in 2005. She founded LAXART in 2005 – the leading independent nonprofit exhibition space in Los Angeles. She is currently curating the 2008 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art. Exhibitions Firsenberg has curated at LAXART include Daniel Martinez: How I Fell In Love With My Dirty Bomb, Ruben Ochoa: Extracted, TOROLAB: SOS Emergency Architecture,Lisa Tan: One Night Stand, Michael Queenland: Museum of Romantic Life, Adria Julia: A Means of Passing the Time, amongst others. She co-curated with Anton Vidokle Image Bank for Everyday Revolutionary Life at the Gallery at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theatre), 2006 and Isaac Julien: True North, and Amir Zaki: Spring Through Winter, Mak Center, 2005. Firstenberg was formerly the Assistant Director/Curator of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and the Schindler House, Los Angeles and Curator of Artists Space, New York. She has contributed to a host of publications on contemporary art including Art Papers, Frieze, Contemporary, Flash Art, Nka, Art Journal, Parkett, Lab 71 amongst others. She is the founder of L’art a new online publication for contemporary art. She is Adjunct Faculty in the Public Art Program at USC Roski School of Art and at Sciarc, Los Angeles.

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