Gabriel Orozco at kurimanzutto, Mexico City
Gabriel Orozco proposes a game where logos and the rules of the market are set against each other, as two forms of understanding an ever-growing capitalist world in the midst of collapse: the art market and the market of groceries in a supermarket within an art gallery.
In a full-scale association of functional operations, kurimanzutto gallery has opened an OXXO, the most wide-spread convenience store in the country, which will operate as such for the duration of thirty-working days within the gallery in the San Miguel Chapultepec neighborhood.
Developed in the twentieth century, supermarkets took a clear direction: they offered functionality, standardization, and cheap prices. OXXO, a chain of convenience stores in Mexico, opened its first store in 1978 in Monterrey. Today it has over 14,000 stores and it is the largest of its kind in Mexico. Over ten million customers are served every day; 104,000 people are employed; and 1,208 new stores were opened last year alone.
In this one-of-a-kind association, unique in its scale, the entities put forth by Orozco will operate in their double identity and functionality, inviting a game of icons in which both universes participate: the world of everyday goods and the art world. With 300 products intervened within the OXXO, which could potentially reach up to 3000 works produced, this scenario combines the modes of production, consumption and pricing of both entities.
To ask questions about supermarkets in the context of a gallery environment opens onto some larger questions not about what art can represent, but how it expands into daily life and what this can reveal. Gabriel Orozco employs the metaphor of the supermarket to reveal, in microcosm, certain constitutive functions of the social. Orozco’s supermarket shows how powerfully human subjects are oriented by nonhuman objects, with the shelves representing the physical infrastructural conditions of possibility for subjectivity and sociality. “OROXXO” offers Orozco a refreshed spatial environment to explore the phenomenology of systems and structures which enable relations and the exercising of individual agency, something achieved through the topographical marking of seemingly banal, inanimate objects in a supermarket. The supermarket is a vehicle for Orozco to expand on his ongoing interest in the interconnectivity of relations, encounters and chance.
Orozco, no doubt the most influential Mexican artist in the last decades, is permanently changing the rules of the game. In this occasion, the sale price of the works will be affected by the rules of the game designed by the artist, in which pieces can be acquired at exponential prices at different points in time: from the conventional mass-consumer prices to the unregulated and subjective prices of the art world where Orozco’s own market is beyond solid and well-established.
Since the early 1990s, Orozco has been applying circles in many different configurations to a wide array of found and made surfaces: photographs, tickets, money, paper, canvas, bone, terracotta and stone, among others. The spread of circles across multiple differentiated surfaces in his practice could be likened to the way brands and logos work as signs of global capital. By fastening to the surfaces of such a diverse range of objects, including banknotes, but now soft drink cans, candy packets, ice cream wrappers and medicine boxes, Orozco suggests the movements of globalized flows that colonize everything, everywhere.
Among the more than 3000 products available at an OXXO 300 of them will be intervened by the artist, ranging from soda and beer to chips, canned food, candy, juice, liquor bottles candles and condoms. These will feature a contraposition of logos and narratives, the juxtaposition of easily recognizable images that suggest an iconic reading of the symbolic Mexican contemporary market.
The 300 products selected will be on sale as individual series of 10 pieces each, exponentially reducing the price by each unit, for a maximum total of three thousand works that will be produced only once they are acquired by the consumer and collector.
This exponential, exceptional and unique game proposed by the artist is a philosophical and numerical reflection that goes back to the fable that tells the story of the game of chess. The creator of the game suggested to the king that his payment for having invented chess would be as follows: one grain of rice for the first square in the board, two for the second, four for the third and so on, duplicating the quantity in each square. The king accepted thinking it was very little for such an invention but in the end he could not fulfil the payment.
at kurimanzutto, Mexico City
until 16 March 2017