"Photography has always been a medium in crisis": in conversation with Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez
EXCERPT: “At what spatio-temporal turning point do images change in meaning, value, and/or audience? Now in a time when images proliferate ad nauseam, the medium of photography speeds towards a precipice of crisis, hinged on its ubiquity, exponentially increased accessibility, immateriality, and now widely understood rehearsed construction. Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez is an artist based in Chicago whose practice contends with photography’s ails, as well as its history, through a formal approach reminiscent of the Information and Systems artists from 1960s and 70s. In our conversation he reminds me that, “photography has always been a medium in crisis,” and that our contemporary questioning of its proliferation is just another point of contention along its conflict-ridden timeline.
Rodriguez’s work is not preoccupied with a medium specific version of photography as much as its interested in the ambiguous, flexible nature of photographic images and their representation of history. His recent projects have looked back to revolutionary struggles and their post-revolutionary governments, specifically in Mexico and Nicaragua, to confuse the narrative legibility of Latin American nationalisms and their complicated interface with the United States. He employs multiple cultural forms, for example Playboy Magazine’s 1983 interview with Nicaraguan Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, or The Clash’s 1980 album Sandinista!, to grasp at a strange and conflicted retelling of history. Elucidation of a singular history is not a desired endpoint. Instead, Rodriguez’s work tests our comprehension of how images become muddied with affect and elasticity when traveling through the complex intersection of culture and politics.”