The Impossible Task of Erasing Violence
"Erased de Kooning” by Rauschenberg is one of the most revolutionary acts of art of the 20th century; it is the quintessential example of the idea of art made by taking away, or as Jasper Johns coined: "by additive subtraction". Although one can’t really tell it was a de Kooning just by looking at the piece, the “new” work of art shows a ghost of what it used to be…. and clearly, the name reaffirms what it once was and still is in part: a de Kooning.
'The Impossible Task of Erasing Violence' -2013 - is inspired by "Erased de Kooning". The work consists in using, as a model for a drawing, a gun-replica-made-of-eraser-material, that at the same time functions as the eraser that removes the mistakes made in the act of drawing. This action of erasing the gun replica, reshapes the gun and forces new corrections in the drawing, and new mistakes as well. The process then repeats itself naturally until the disappearance of the render and the model... until there is no more gun, real, drawn, or otherwise.
For the piece, I invited 4 survivors of Venezuela's violence spree to participate.
With each of them, I drew a gun replica with their help while listening to their stories. Our hands were videotaped at different stages of the drawing.
As we expected, the ghost of the gun always remained on the paper reminding us that no matter how hard any of us tries to erase every trace of it, violence will always leave a mark and, like the old de Kooning drawing that Rauschenberg erased, It will force itself back - in this case, back as a depiction of violence and its repercussions.
The 4 videos are edited together in sequence into a longer one. This longer version is then repeated un-synchronized on two monitors that are side by side in the vertical position but the video on the right monitor is flipped horizontally so that the gun points to the left instead of to the right thus confronting both of the images.
In the two monitors we can see my hand and the hands of others drawing and erasing the guns, and at each side of the monitors, leveled and properly spaced, we can see the erased-drawings.
Today, Venezuela is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world (according to the Huffington Post, it was the 2nd most dangerous country in the world with more than 21,692 crime-related deaths in 2013. By 2015 Venezuela was named the most murderous place in the world -BBC- where a murder is committed every 21 minutes)
… It is a one-sided violent war that will leave many marks.