Inigo Manglano-Ovalle: Rochester Art Center

Article excerpt

A recent exhibition of Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's work at the Rochester Art Center presented new sculptures and audio works alongside reconfigurations of existing projects. Among those not previously exhibited was Portrait of a Young Reader, 2006, from the artist's ongoing series "DNA Portraits." This example diverges in form and meaning from earlier entries, large, colorful C-prints based on the results of DNA testing that feature the blotchy bands familiar from crime documentaries. Young Reader presents us instead with a strip of small, colored disks derived from DNA microarray analysis. Rather than grouping a number of genetic "fingerprints" together to represent human diversity, Manglano-Ovalle here represents a single anonymous everyman who seems to stand for both an open-minded reader and a producer of fresh meaning.

Both Young Reader and Red Fist, 2006, a red, hardened-epoxy form that the artist made by squeezing a chunk of the raw material in his hand, acted as counterpoints to two large sculptures, Cloud Prototype No. 1, 2003, and Recumbent Iceberg (r11i01), 2005-2006, which dominated the main gallery. Whereas the first two works speak of the specificity and singularity of the body, the latter are signifiers of the sublime. Hanging from the ceiling, Cloud Prototype No. I is a billowy fiberglass shell in the shape of a thundercloud, surfaced with shiny titanium-alloy foil, a spectacular manifestation of the informel based on real weather data. Recumbent Iceberg takes its shape from radar and sonar scans of the topographical outline and core volume of an actual iceberg in the Labrador Sea. Made from thousands of pieces of aluminum tubing joined together into what looks like a geodesic dome gone haywire, the work juxtaposes Buckminster Fuller's utopian vision with the threat of global warming, signaled by the iceberg's tilted position. Objective representations of nature thus intersect with more ideologically loaded images. For Manglano-Ovalle, clouds--like icebergs--are first and foremost bodies in unimpeded motion, unaffected by national boundaries, and thus serve to illuminate the nature of migration, the political construction of the "illegal alien," and the trials faced by actual immigrants. …