Adrián Villar Rojas and His Modern Momento Mori

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For Argentinian installation artist Adrián Villar Rojas, time is a fluid, malleable substance. With all of its quirks and oddities, this fantastical dimension is something to be intricately studied and examined. As a whimsical conceptual sculptor, the artist does just that at Geffen Contemporary‘s The Theater of Disappearance.

Villar Rojas spends much time visiting, adapting, and thinking about the space and socio-cultural environment of the hosting city in preparation for his installations. In the case of Los Angeles and the Geffen Contemporary, the artist chose to focus on geological strata, as well as a slew of organic and inorganic objects that seem to be lost without a proper location in time. The viewer does not know whether these pieces have been sitting there for a day or centuries. Is it a burial or an excavation?

geffen contemporary

Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance, installation view, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City. Photo by Michel Zabe.

Together, the artist and a team of preparators raised the gallery floor and embedded stone, dirt, concrete, clay, tennis shoes, and fruit peels into the floor to highlight the artificial nature of the space and give the impression of looking back in time through layer upon layer of human and geological history. Both a peek into the future and the past, these items help the viewer think about the degradation and continuation of the world around us. Much like the father of readymades, Marcel Duchamp, Villar Rojas elevates everyday items into art objects here as a deeper examination into contemporary culture.

The Theater of Disappearance offers a momento mori, as well as a sense of perspective as it relates to our place in space and time. Further exploring this theme and commenting on Duchamp, Villar Rojas prominently displays a decaying bicycle wheel in a brightly lit refrigerated case. Other such refrigerators on display here present wonders of the natural world and human achievement, including petrified tree roots, skeletons, and prosthetic limbs.

Blending the past, present, and future, Adrián Villar Rojas uses the gallery as a stage for investigating mankind’s impermanence, materialism, and the definition of art–as ephemeral, perhaps, as anything else.

Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance
Through May 13, 2018
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Emily Nimptsch

Emily Nimptsch

Emily Nimptsch is a freelance arts and culture writer living in Los Angeles. She has written for Flaunt, ArtSlant, Artillery, and produced blog content for Venice Beach’s L.A. Louver Gallery.