Critics’ Picks

Felipe Rivas San Martín, Hegemony, 2015-2020, print on fabric, 59 x 59.''

Felipe Rivas San Martín, Hegemony, 2015-2020, print on fabric, 59 x 59.''


Felipe Rivas San Martín

Factoría Santa Rosa
Sta. Rosa 2260 second floor
September 29–November 29, 2020

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Chile 1999, around the same time that the concept of “sexual diversity” entered the national consciousness. For thirteen years, LGBTQIA+ artist and activist Felipe Rivas San Martín has produced a body of work critical of the idea that certain sexualities are “deviant.” Curated by Antonio Urrutia Luxoro, “Estatutos de la disidencia” (Statutes of Dissidence), revisits more than a decade of Rivas San Martín’s production against the debate between liberal appeals for tolerance and “sexual diversity” and a radical politics of “sexual dissidence.”  

In Hegemony, 2015–2020, Rivas San Martín overlays an LGBT flag with the image of a tank in a critique of the pinkwashing of the military and other institutions of domination. In Chiquitita dime por qué (Little Girl, Tell Me Why), 2011, unfinished jigsaw puzzles containing childhood photos of the artist (in one he appears naked, posing modestly) are framed on the wall while ABBA’s 1979 hit “Chiquitita” plays in the background—an ironic comment on marica boyhood.

If the show’s title signals a contradiction between the normalization and noncompliance, another tension explored in “Statutes of Dissidence” is the contest between digital media and painting. The base of a vacuum cleaner is upcycled as a flowerpot in Tecnología doméstica (Domestic Technology), 2017: a modern vanitas about technological obsolescence. Works from the “Proyecto Queer Codes” series (2011—) play in the space between the analogue and the digital through the representation of pixels and QR codes. Hovering a smartphone over work grants one access to the video performance Diga queer con la lengua afuera (Say Queer with Your Tongue Out), 2011, while another is out of focus and thus unscannable. Retrato de Intimidad (Portrait of Intimidad), 2013, a large-scale painting of a Facebook profile featuring the pixilated face of a young woman named Intimidad Romero preserves, in acrylic and oil on canvas, a screenshot of an interface that no longer exists. (The account, in fact, never belonged to a real person, but was a social media cyberperformance begun in 2010.) In exploring how identities—diverse but also dissident ones—are technologically constructed and performed on precarious and mutable platforms, Retrato de Intimidad distills many of the exhibition’s key inquiries, articulating a queer politics beyond discourses of recognition and inclusion.

Translated from Spanish by Michele Faguet