HORACIO RODRIGUEZ: RADICALIZED RELICS
Radicalized Relics is a collaboration across centuries between Horacio Rodriguez and pre-Columbian Indigenous artisans from Mexico, whose artifacts form the basis of this exhibition. His practice also takes inspiration from the Mexican muralists of the 1920’s, Chicano artists of the 1970s and 1980s, graffiti aesthetics, outsider art, and the neon-colored consumer-based symbols of his childhood.
A love of archaeology led Rodriguez to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts’ collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. There, he used advanced digital scanning, 3D printing, traditional plaster mold-making, and slip-casting ceramic techniques to incorporate historic artifacts into his practice. His creative process also involved multiple firings and image transfer techniques such as underglaze transfer, custom and commercial ceramic decals, vinyl resist and gold luster to build up multiple layers on the clay surfaces. For him, this hybrid mix of media and techniques approximates the unique, often contradictory, spirit of border aesthetic.
The collective works in Radicalized Relics explore issues such as identity, cultural appropriation, immigration, and assimilation. As “collaborative” experiments, the objects are firmly rooted in the past, but employ branding techniques of today, serving as a critique of the commodification and exploitation of Indigenous artifacts and peoples. Also included are contemporary objects of resistance and protest—such as guns and Molotov cocktails. The ceramics bear similar marks of being co-opted for commercial gain and illustrate corporate and colonial willingness to extract and profit from Indigenous people’s cultural history, with whatever means necessary.