Enrique Ježik. Violated Spaces

We rarely consider the complex plot of spatial relationships that exist within museums. Engrossed by the material on exhibition, we are happy to walk through the exhibit rooms without thinking about how our path is determined by the curating. One more reason for this publication to welcome the unorthodox contribution of Enrique Ježik, who motivates us to think of M magazine in terms of an interconnection of spaces modified by the artist.

To shut down any part of the magazine would involve an act not unlike Ježik’s intrusions in museums and galleries transformed into scenes of aggression: two colossal hydraulic hammers clashing beneath the vaulted ceilings of an ancient temple—the Ex-Teresa museum in Mexico City; the friction of disks from several mechanical cutters that hurl huge sparks while mineral residuals accumulate on the white cube floor of the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in the same city; or an excavating machine pounding in the Le Confort Moderne Gallery in a former factory of Poitiers, transmitting an SOS Morse code signal as it perforates the ground.

As the solitary, silent contemplation in museum spaces surrenders to the presence of thunder and dissonance, Ježik’s representations practically reinstate the gladiator battle, along with its instinctive charge and its meeting of forces, while audiences perform in terms of a multitude, in the bio-political sense of a social entity of creation—a quantity characteristic of the latest modernity. What is the creator’s role today? Where does the image of an artist pointing a gauge 12 shotgun, cocking his gun and spraying shots at exhibit room partitions lead us? For “security reasons” spectators at the Poitiers exhibition were only able to view the final result: a type of large-scale graphism.

No doubt, we are reminded of the celebrated photographic sequence from 1950, when Hans Namuth took thousands of shots of Jackson Pollock sprinkling paint over enormous canvases: action painting, a burst of gestures that became emblematic for the New York school. However, unlike the cult for Pollock’s artwork, Ježik’s work is ephemeral, estranged from object worshipping, and more a part of a cycle of mechanized symbolical allegories in which the game or the confrontation take us back to remembrances of the human condition: an agitated world at war.

Spatiality is for Ježik an undifferentiated principle; exhibit spaces become shooting ranges, battlefields, or construction sites populated by heavy machinery. Each one of his actions sets off sculpting, graphic, communication and work processes. Constructing and demolishing become the analogy of the other. Hence, cutting, carving, perforating and burnishing material turn into sculpting functions, beholden to a classic tradition; though, now mechanical arms and monumental chisels and gouges execute the work, much the same way a rifle is transformed into a type of automatic pencil. Even the artist’s legs and arms fall under this logic of prostheses, as they carry the video camera around and transmute vision into action.

Enrique Ježik’s attachment to rituals of violence remind us of the constitutive nature of rebellion as a social matrix, although it also alludes to the capacity of social repression to remain hidden. The artist’s settling of accounts after his late discovery of the atrocities of the Argentinean dictatorship?

An allusion to the encoded language of resistance? Perhaps for these reasons his work is charged with components of ambiguity, obliqueness, and migrations of meaning: to such a degree that a tool always winds up being something else and any historical time may present itself when least expected. Still, Ježik dispenses with direct political allusion and favors language as a performative act: the commitment of words to exercise their autonomy.

Like a far-reaching war strategy, this Argentinean artist who has resided in Mexico for almost twenty years, imagines more projects than he actually carries out. His work can be included in the aesthetics of violence, a lethal version of the object and its artistic faculty; simultaneously, his meditations on human aggression become inscribed in the aesthetics of memory and recollection. Despite the asymmetry in the use of force, Ježik insists on maintaining an ideal balance, equality between the forces at play, a world with a destructive potential that can be stabilized. The project he most wishes to carry out involves working with explosives inside the museum. However, owing to the brutal acts of September 11, with its aftermaths of paranoia and gratuitous attacks against Iraq and the harboring of a psychopath with the appearance of a government, artistic proposals like this one encounter many obstacles.
Published in the magazine M – Museums, edited by Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, 2004.