Monday, 29 November 2010


Runo Lagomarsino
A Conquest Means Not Only Taking Over (II)
2010. Installation with wallpaper, drawings, photographs and objects

Runo Lagomarsino
A Conquest Means Not Only Taking Over (II)
From the exhibition ”Monkey See Monkey Do” at the The Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz
curated by Anna Johansson, Emma Reichert, Elena Tzotzi / Tetriss Produktion
September 17th - January 23rd

"The starting point of the wallpaper was Pizarro’s signature/rubric, which when I saw for the first time made me puzzled by its beautifulness, its abstraction, almost like a painting by Cy Twombly. The paradox between its beautifulness, how harmless it looked, and the power that it contained (and the symbolic power it still contains) is something important for me. How is power visualized? How is an image narrated? Does a signature have a voice over? Are the empty spaces between the rubrics the other, the other’s voices and stories?"

The expeditions of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incan Empire in the beginning of the 16th century in his search for gold and glory, occupy an indisputable position in our history books. A not so well-known fact however, is that Pizarro could neither read nor write. His signature consisted of two squiggles, each time confirmed by a notary public who signed in between. This abstract sign, almost a drawing, is the signature of power that sanctioned acts of violence and oppression altering the future of both the “New” and the “Old World”.

Through an intricate arrangement of loose associations, symbolic fragments and historical facts Runo Lagomarsino traces out the double-edged relationship between modernity and colonialism, and its consequences on our times. The advocates of colonization once argued for their God-given duty to impose universal values (in this case through Catholicism) in order to salvage the native people. Later on when freedom, democracy, and reason (religious tolerance included) were introduced through the Enlightenment as primary values of society, another set of power games and destruction was triggered. Disparate forms of endless exploitation lead up to societies of today burdened with unresolved problems that haunt us like ghosts from our past.

Observing this movement of history how is it then, if at all, possible to break with the vicious circle of repetitive injustices? To revisit and examine historical experiences in order to understand the aims and interests that lie behind them is perhaps one way. Another is to continuously keep asking ourselves who are “we” and what do we in fact “support”?

Runo Lagomarsino was born in Lund, Sweden, in 1977, and lives and works in Sao Paulo and Malmo. He studied Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Art Valand, in Gothenburg, at the Malmo Art Academy and at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, in New York City. He has exhibited regularly since the beginning of the 2000s. Of note among his recent solo exhibitions are: “Between an Imperial System and a Metric System” (Elastic, Artissima, Turin, 2010); “Horizon (Southern Sun Drawing”) (Elastic, Zona Maco, Mexico City, 2010); “Las Casas is Not a Home” (Mummery + Schnelle, London, 2009); “Those Who Control the Past Command the Future – Those Who Command the Future Conquer the Past (Overgaden, Copenhagen, 2007); This Is No Time for Saluting Flags (Elastic, Malmo, 2006). Recent group exhibitions include “The Moderna Exhibition 2010” (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010; “The Travelling Show” (Colección Jumex, Mexico City, 2010); “Free as Air and Water” (Cooper Union, New York, 2009); “Report on Probability” (Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, 2009); 2ª Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan (2009); Luleå Biennial (2009); “Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding” (Parsons The New School for Design, New York, 2008); 7ª Gwangju Biennial (2008); 3ª Guangzhou Triennial (2008).

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