Critics’ Picks

Jota Castro, Amazonas aka Merdolino, 2009, toilet paper and wood, 75 1/2 x 7 4/5 x 7 4/5".

Berlin

Jota Castro

Galerie Barbara Thumm
Markgrafenstrasse 68
February 7 - March 21

Overstatement is an extravagance that is easy to overindulge during these difficult times. Conveying explicit and passionate opinions, Jota Castro presents object lessons in how strong statements can succeed as good gambles or fail as costly creative luxuries. For his first solo show at Barbara Thumm’s two galleries, the French-Peruvian artist and former United Nations and European Union diplomat advocates his political convictions through his art. At the gallery’s Markgrafenstrasse space, he presents sculptures wrapped in barbed wire: Tricky (all works 2009) consists of two soccer balls, and Thankyou (xye xye) is an orb of children’s shoes. Both works illustrate the often-illusory hope and freedom that athletics represents for children growing up in economically disadvantaged parts of the world.

Two additional sculptures at the Dirckenstrasse gallery have more steadfast political messages. Mortage, which is based on Castro’s studies of law and political science, is nevertheless constructed with a ham fist. The work consists of six nooses hanging from the ceiling and covered with slightly fraying dollar bills. Made from a less recognizable status symbol, Castro’s second installation is far more successful. Amazonas aka Merdolino is a dense cluster of vertical wooden stakes holding plump stacks of candy-colored toilet paper. By demonstrating the ridiculousness of our mundane and hedonistic pleasures, Castro shows that satire is one area where restraint is not necessarily a virtue.