Damián Ortega

Institute of Contemporary Art

THERE IS A STRIKING DISJUNCTION between reproductions of Damián Ortega’s Cosmic Thing, 2002, and the real article currently on view at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art in his first major survey, “Do It Yourself.” In photographs, this dismembered 1989 Volkswagen Beetle is suspended like a digital chimera—a lost specialeffects explosion from The Matrix, perhaps. In person, objecthood returns with a vengeance. The metal wires, taut with weight, are insistently visible, and instead of a futurist celebration of technology there are merely the rusty, dirty, and fraying parts of an old car. Cosmic Thing is an emblem of Mexico City’s chop-shop culture—the car was taken apart by teenage mechanics—that paraphrases Ortega’s neo-Conceptualist practice. Art, architecture, and design from different chapters of modernism are reduced to atomic or constituent units, then recombined.

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