Ricardo Alcaide, 'Intrusions' at Galeria Tajamar in Santiago de Chile, curated by Carolina Castro Jorquera
a views of Torres Tajamar, where Galeria Tajamar is located inside what used to be a commercial kiosk
and Ricardo Alcaide's 'Intrusion' inside Galeria Tajamar
Intrusions / Ricardo Alcaide / Galeria Tajamar / Santiago de Chile
curated by Carolina Castro Jorquera
“Walkers are practitioners of the city, for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
For Ricardo Alcaide, walking through the city is the beginning of unexpected and diverse encounters with the debris that intercedes the urban landscape while transforming the geometry of its discourse. Today, cities are set out to be schematic and legible for the wanderer in search of discovering disorders that will lead them to create new languages.
During his stay in Santiago, Chile, the artist’s perception of his surroundings wandered from street markets, to the facades of modernist buildings, to the light housings used by the homeless. Alcaide believes it’s impossible to refer to something he hasn’t had a direct experience with. Considering this and the ethics that originate from the relationship between landscape and context as a starting point, it is possible to conceptualize a piece that firstly refers to vernacular and modernist architecture, secondly as a formal approach to art history –to the geometric abstraction that marked his artistic formation- and thirdly to a Latin American social reality.
As he walks he collect instinctively, he is attracted to those things that have been cast out by society on a daily basis. In these things, he observes a sculptural, pictorial and architectural potential. Much of what he picks up is seemingly useless or lacking of a specific function; yet in the elaboration of his work, they become essential. A block of wood with its side painted blue that was found in an old school, a triangular yellow photo frame bought from a street vendor, fragments of hole-poked cardboard picked up off the street, a wooden box removed from the recycling bin, among many other discoveries, were used in the installation. Everything was chosen to be intervened by the artist’s hand; whether it was to be painted, wrapped, folded or thoroughly relocated and displayed on the metallic shelves.
The setting for Intrusions is ideal; the gallery is a translucent hexagon in the center of a plaza surrounded by modernist buildings. At first we are invited to observe the installation from the exterior of the gallery, and then we are led the way to walk through the piece as if we were following the artist’s footsteps throughout the city. The metallic shelving displayed by the artist recalls vertical urban architecture, the Tajamar Towers. The furniture’s concrete grey color, different heights and thicknesses, withhold geometric objects that create an urban landscape composition.
Alcaide’s intentions act as a hinge between political and poetic spheres in the way he approaches social issues—debris and housing—and transfers them into the realm of aesthetics. In Intrusions, the juxtaposition of paintings and objects shifts from the formal to the conceptual or more importantly, from the playful to the brutal. This installation explodes the idea of a painting that exists merely within its limits given the pictorial and symbolic interruption of these objects within the architectural space of the gallery, an interruption that openly critiques the function of art and of the spaces we inhabit.
When the spectator goes through Intrusions, he encounters a world of traditions and affections -intrinsic to the creative act and observation- for the installation offers the possibility to recognize our city’s waste transformed into small works of art. Alcaide’s sensibility has driven reality towards the limit of its own abstraction. The paintings on canvas made by the artist’s hands are mistaken with the pieces made with un-touched found rubbish; for they are all displayed on the same furniture, leaning against each other, lying horizontally upon the shelves. These shelves, similar to the city’s architecture, create pathways through the installations yet they also offer new perspectives and new ways of observing and coexisting with the geometry of the gallery. These experiences within the city can specifically relate to an anthropological, poetic and mystical way of experiencing space, as defined in 1976 by Merleau-Ponty as the “other space”. This reality can also be referred to as the realm of blind and opaque influence one experiences in the inhabited city. Ricardo Alcaide insinuates the city’s vitality with one which is simultaneously nomadic and metaphoric.
As Gaston Bachelard wrote in The Poetics of Space, as long as we inhabit our vital space in accordance to the dialectics provided by life itself, we will take root in a particular corner of the world. The artist’s work sows new ethical notions, and possibly new signs of identity. This is done within a society that tosses away its rubbish and its history on an everyday basis, creating an aesthetic in which anything that appears to be old, precarious, obsolete or misplaced is unacceptable. Intrusions proposes a process through which we, the wanderers, become more aware of our everyday concerns through a formal artistic form that is, above all, pictorial.
Visit Carolina Castro Jorquera's blog
and Galeria Tajamar's website
 The Tajamar Towers is a mid-century modernist housing complex located in the Providencia area in Santiago, Chile. The Tajamar Towers complex has four buildings, each of different proportions and sizes. Fernando Castillo Velasco pointed out the following: “[The Tajamar Towers] were thought of considering that we were building a significant architectural work intended for the city’s progress. Forestal Park, which continued into Providencia Park concludes in a place with a hundred-and-so-meter enormous façade that faces the park. It is a culmination of the park. We thought that these buildings were meant to be sculptures, and therefore contain transparencies allowing the cordillera to be seen and different heights to emphasise their sculptural qualities. They were a portal between the higher income neighbourhoods and a conclusion to Providencia Avenue. I believe that the Tajamar Towers have truly stood the test of time. It became a harmonious incorporation to Santiago’s landscape.” The Clinic Newspaper, 2008.