Raul Marroquin

Montevideo/Galerie René Coelho

Raul Marroquin confronts his audience with the many ways in which the media has played a key role in the efforts of politicians and power brokers to manipulate the public. In this show he displayed remarkable wit, humor, and technological achievement in four well-defined pieces.

The largest work, entitled As the World Turns (all works 1992), consists of an atlas, a globe, a spherical television set, and a computer monitor placed on four pedestals, each object depicting a full image of our planet. From the atlas displaying a Mercator projection, the image of the earth’s surface moved from a more accurate representation of the globe, to the manipulated image on video, to the computer-generated revolution of the earth as seen from a satellite. Technological progress as displayed by this sequence of objects is overshadowed by the socio-political message offered by computer animation: as the world turns, graphic flashes indicate the places on earth where war, famine, chaos, and violence reign. According to Marroquin, political, social, and religious antagonisms are more to blame for the damaged appearance of the earth today, than are scientific and technological development.

A video camera, micromonitors and mirrors are used in a hanging wall-piece called Mirror Shades in which the viewer can see his own reflection. By far the most formal piece, it fails to attract more than passing attention. In Television Set Converted into a Radio Receiver, however, Marroquin remains truer to his purpose. In an accompanying text, the artist offers to teach the purchaser of this piece how this miraculous technical feat is brought about, and confers a diploma to prove that one has mastered this skill.

An even more hilarious effect—however tainted with the bitterness that is provoked by the feeling of powerlessness and utter defeat when confronted with the human condition—is created in the last piece. Again its explanatory title sums it up: Angry and Overworked Vacuum Cleaner Getting Back at the World. In the cacophonous world created by the amplified sounds of his own making, the vacuum cleaner throws up all the filth and garbage—graphically styled in Styrofoam—it sucked up in its course of duty. The futility of this attempt and the lack of meaning in the thunderous noise it produces leaves one convinced that all vacuum cleaners are parasites and destined to remain parasites even if they stand up to it all and spit out their very raison d’être.

André Minaar