Hugo Garcia-Urrutia, “Making a Killing,” at The MAC (2011)

Light emerges from hundreds of bullet holes, comes to rest as subtle constellations upon darkened walls, an empty throne oversees it all… and we just might have been better served never knowing why.

In the New Works Space at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC), Hugo Garcia-Urrutia offers an effective blend of minimalism and power with his installation, “Making A Killing.” The piece — curated by Charrissa Terranova, PhD — takes full advantage of the small space in which it is situated.

You enter the adumbral room and immediately spot two large objects seemingly comprising the installation: a metallic cube (8’ x 8’) and a large gold throne. The voluminous box is set back and a bit askew, riddled with bullet holes obviously erupting from within rather than without. The empty and gaudy chair rests against a wall, clearly placed and lit to evoke its imperial oversight.

Light emerges from the holes and bids you forward to look inside. Doing so you find very little worthy of your curiosity: work lights attached to constructions designed to have work lights attached to them. So you back up, reassess the chair and the situation.

The chair is a replica of the Presidential Chair used during the time of Pancho Villa. At first, this seems absurd and fantastic, a satirizing of political power as essentially empty and simultaneously voyeuristic. And the world it oversees is really chaos resisting its metallic enclosure, shooting its way out. Further, the light emanating from within the box escapes through the bullet holes and lands as gentle stars on the canopy of the gallery walls.

It all begins to read like a sublime satire or tragic-comedy.

Then, somewhat unfortunately, you read the artist’s statement about the piece and its possibilities begin to contract. You discover that it is a response to a personal loss, one connected to what is going on in Mexico, particularly Juarez. Accordingly, you feel sympathy for the artist and his family and you understand the work better. Yet, you also find its wider possibilities exchanged for its particularities.

—Andy Amato, PhD

Andy Amato is a Dallas-based artist, writer and teacher

(This review originally appeared in Arts+Culture Magazine)

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