Mexico City

View of “Pablo Vargas Lugo,” 2017. From left: Vaina (Eumorpha fasciatus) (A) (Sheath [Eumorpha fasciatus] [A]), 2016; Ovipositor, 2017. Photo: Ramiro Chaves.

View of “Pablo Vargas Lugo,” 2017. From left: Vaina (Eumorpha fasciatus) (A) (Sheath [Eumorpha fasciatus] [A]), 2016; Ovipositor, 2017. Photo: Ramiro Chaves.

Pablo Vargas Lugo

View of “Pablo Vargas Lugo,” 2017. From left: Vaina (Eumorpha fasciatus) (A) (Sheath [Eumorpha fasciatus] [A]), 2016; Ovipositor, 2017. Photo: Ramiro Chaves.

Pablo Vargas Lugo Pablo Vargas Lugo’s recent exhibition “Ovipositor” surprisingly paralleled, whether intentionally or not, certain concepts integral to the poststructuralist thought of Jacques Derrida—dissemination and fertility, nakedness and its inescapable vulnerability, presupposed presence and factual appearance. Let’s begin with puncture, which the French philosopher used to denote penetration as a provoked action, as well as living, killing, and hiding. Derrida reflected on the notion of puncturing—an act that is the dialogic, biological, and symbolic center of “Ovipositor.”

The gallery was dominated by the titular sculpture, from 2017: a massive, more than forty-foot-long pole, resting at a slight angle on a blue steel base so that its tip pointed up toward the ceiling. Seen close up, the work evoked an uncannily delicate execution that seemed balanced with the colorful visual tranquility generated by the formal and thematic repetition of the banner-like Vainas (Sheaths), 2016, done in silk screen and acrylic on fabric, that accompanied it. Unstretched paintings floated slightly away from the wall, their surfaces featuring tubular figures similar in configuration and formal treatment, without being repetitive. The imagery of the Vainas, like Ovipositor, formally echoes the organ common to certain insects. The ovipositor is usually an extremely thin, resistant, and sharp—sometimes even lethal—appendage found on females of many species, including those (butterflies and moths) belonging to the order Lepidoptera. Its functioning is integral to the transport and depositing of eggs—and ultimately to the survival of the species. The sharp form and strength of this appendage, located under the abdomen, is essential for penetrating the body of the “host” (be it animal or vegetal) in which the eggs are deposited. The ovipositor punctures this dwelling, chosen by the insect mother.

Vargas Lugo’s concrete Ovipositor is a heptagonal representation of this minuscule, yet vital, organ. However, this “appendage” not only lacks a body (carrier and host) and an organic function, but has also been completely stripped of its capacity for movement, protection, and camouflage. It is displayed like a confessed secret, laid out on a base that gives the impression that it could break (physically and metaphorically) at any moment under the weight of its load. This “useless” ovipositor, which resembles a projectile, decreases subtly in diameter as it approaches its narrowest point—which the artist visually emphasizes with a pointer of black and white stripes.

At the back of the gallery, a discretely placed projection on the floor showed seven images of lunar craters—Cráteres (Aristóteles, Platón, Linneo, Arquímedes, Heráclito, Kant, Ptolomeo) (Craters [Aristotle, Plato, Linnaeus, Archimedes, Heraclitus, Kant, Ptolemy]), 2017. To see them one had to lower one’s gaze, which with Ovipositor had been projected toward an imaginary exterior—though their subject directed our imagination toward the sky. This delicate inversion nourished the sense of unease conveyed by the almost ghostly appearance of those floating craters.

“Ovipositor” was an eloquent exercise in the visual and conceptual deconstruction of the historical-biological ties infinitely configured and probed by scientific data, encoded verifications, and archived truths. Through its impeccable design and execution, Vargas Lugo’s exhibition confronted the ineffectual nature of the real and of the unstable destiny that exceeds the aesthetic field—the vulnerable subtlety of what still resides among the wonders of the natural universe whose germinal function we tend to ignore, in the best of scenarios.

––Marcela Quiroz

Translated from Spanish by Michèle Faguet