Jesus Martinez Oliva

Article excerpt

Is there an ideology of geometry? This question is a key to Jesus Martinez diva's show, suggestively and disturbingly titled La escuela del miedo (School of Fear). What connection might there be among education, fear, and the supposed rigor of geometry? Can it be that these three go hand in hand? So the exhibition seemed to suggest.

At the entrance to the gallery, Martinez Oliva placed a group of school desks in the shape of towers, or columns. The legs of these desks, which almost blocked off the back of the gallery, acted as sharp defensive objects; they were reminiscent of turnstiles found at security entrances and border blockades. On one of the walls beyond these obstacles was a group of works on paper--drawings, photocopies, and collages--that demanded close attention. Some bore images of geometric figures: grids, squares, rectangles, diamonds, parallelograms, perhaps inspired by the Artists of the Constructivism and Neo-Plasticism (Albers, van Docs burg, Mondrian, and so on). Others showed models and furniture associated with the Bauhaus and its ideals of simplicity and rectitude (as espoused by Ferdinand Kramer, for instance). Still others featured much more disturbing images from newspapers: barbed-wire fences, barriers, bars, immigrant detention centers, etc. Rather than being divided into groups, these sheets were intermingled, thus rendering political what might otherwise appear to be a catalogue of flat shapes. Martinez Oliva seems to suggest that behind modernity's Utopia and its longing for universality He methods of coercion, imprisonment, and exclusion. …

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