9 September – 7 October 2004
White Cube Hoxton Square presented the first UK solo exhibition by Damián Ortega. Ortega (born 1967) lives and works in Mexico City. He began his career as a political cartoonist and his art has the intellectual rigour, critical edge and profound sense of playfulness often associated with his previous occupation. He creates sculptures, installations, videos and actions inspired by a wide range of mundane objects from golf balls and pick-axes to bricks and rubbish bins, even tortillas, all subjected to what has been described as Ortega's characteristically ‘mischievous process of transformation and dysfunction'. In Cosmic Thing (2002), one of his most celebrated works, first shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania and later at the Venice Biennale (2003), Ortega dis-assembled a VW Beetle and re-composed it piece by piece, suspended from wire in mid-air in the manner of a mechanic's instruction manual. The result was both a diagram and a fragmented object and offered a new way of seeing the ‘people's car' first developed in Nazi Germany but now produced in his native Mexico.
For this exhibition Ortega constructed a work outside in Hoxton Square through which the viewer can walk, but whose meaning could only be grasped once upstairs in the otherwise empty gallery. Playing with the idea of optical and physical illusion, the piece fluctuated between object, image, sign and space.