Ausstellung mit Nicholas Jackson im Dynamo Zürich am 23. Juni 2018.
Flujo Domestico is the first solo exhibition in Europe by Chilean artist Nicholas Jackson (1983), showing us the “flow” of money which does not only encompass transactions in shops, but which is deeply rooted in Chilean macroeconomics and its neoliberal politics established by the Chicago Boys in the 1980s. Today, money is no longer the green, red, or blue paper, nor is it the plastic of credit cards or new bills, but instead moves in an invisible flow of capital and crypto currencies through fiberglass cables. What for us in Switzerland has become everyday life on our smartphones is, however, only a small portion of the worldwide flujo domestico. Jackson starts his journey where money continues to be visible, as it is the case in his hometown Viña del Mar. He shows us the sources of this flow, the ATMs, the DIY advertisements of its street markets, their fake, foreign, or unique goods, and not least the images of this economy.
Where money is still visible, it has no impact on world economics, however, where it digitally moves in large amounts from one account to another, it influences the lives of those who hold it in their hands. This marginal presence expresses itself in a language that is as universal at it is idiosyncratic. Venerated personalities on bills share the same physical and visual space as the part rough-and-ready, part skillful commercial signs in small shops in Viña’s neighboring town Valparaiso. Each of them tells the story of cultural values and personal dreams, of local politics and the global market, and marketing strategies. The language of the flujo domestico is vibrant, exceedingly heterogeneous, and the expression of all that speak it every day.
Jackson’s work is neither documentary nor investigative, his images are neither a mirror of reality nor an analysis of power structures. Instead, they illustrate a cross section of the “distributed form”, a concept of the English art theorist and philosopher Peter Osborne. In this sense, the manifestation of a thing is not confined to a specific medium or number of instances, but organically develops in potentially infinite repetition and remix.
This exhibition was supported by Jugendkulturhaus Dynamo, Stadt Zürich.
Nicholas Jackson Valenzuela (1983) lives in Viña del Mar. The neighboring city of Valparaiso and the summer retreat of the metropolitans, the Santiaguinos, is a melting pot of Chilean culture, in which the everyday of its population, high culture, and international tourism come together. Taking this quotidian buzz as a point of departure and repeatedly circling back to it, Jackson develops his work on the basis of the multiple layers of signs, symbols, and their use in advertising, politics, and art. Often, the result reveals a subtle irony in the connection of apparently separate elements, or in stripping them of all context altogether, thus emphasizing the mostly colorful, but eventually empty appearance. Jackson takes up this seemingly trivial envelope and demonstrates its complex structure within our culture, as well as its pointing toward the material and immaterial values that it contains.
Ready-mades and copies are an integral part of Jackson’s practice, both in their employment in his installations as in their representation in photographs and digital collages. The “Latin American Neobaroque”, as the eclectic mix of Western and Latin American Element is called, finds its expression both in the Chilean everyday life and Jackson’s work.
Jackson has been teaching the theory and practice of photography for several years in a number of schools, among them the Professional Institute of Photography ARCOS and the Art School of the University Andrés Bello. His mostly site-specific installations have been exhibited throughout Chile. He has been winner of numerous national awards, residencies, and grants, such as by the National Council for the Arts CNCA of the Republic of Chile.
Watch an interview with the artist on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aBAmFUXtPJI
Flujo Domestico started as a joint project in summer 2017, when I initially was in conversation with Nicholas about his series Cajeros and wanted to do an artist book. By that time, Nicholas had already taken hundreds of photos from his ATM withdrawals and posted them with fragments from definitions of philosophical and economic concepts. But only showing Cajeros, as a kind of conceptual work, would have merely touched on the larger project that was Flujo Domestico, also comprising images of advertisements, price tags, and book covers. This is how, in early 2018, Flujo Domestico was born as an exhibition project.
As we were thinking of which material form the digital photos should take, Nicholas suggested various printing techniques in order to do justice to each image, meaning its pictorial content as well as the material form he originally found it in. The work Todo el dinero del mundo, the showcase of a bureau de change, is exemplary for the decision of the printing method: the CMYK offset print on cotton paper calls to attention the re-gained materiality of the depicted paper money in a digital photograph, from a quick click to a laborious, multistep, and manual reproduction.
The production of the prints was part of a residency at Casaplan and Camara Lucida, both in Valparaiso. Besides helping with the actual printing, the two institutions provided guidance to Nicholas in terms of the different printing processes—offset, serigraphy, and large format photographic exposure and development—so that Nicholas could produce the prints himself. We owe many thanks to the hosts and teachers, in particular Barbara Vergara at Casaplan and Carolina and Joaquín at Camara Lucida. The residency at Casaplan was supported by MAPA.
For my work, I take day-to-day events as a point of departure, little things that I observe at home or outside. Of that immense potential of possible situations, I wanted to focus on the surfaces and images that flood my life, that visual material with which I experiment constantly on my phone, read in books, or bump into on the streets.
I document these things with the most basic camera, that of my mobile phone. For some of the works in the show, I chose straight photographs right from the phone, whilst for others I worked with digital collage. In terms of production, the curator and I thought of the best ways to render these images in material form, and we decided that some will go to the plotter, whereas others would lend themselves to more sophisticated, and in a way more material, ways of production, such as engraving and photo emulsions. This decision was based on the very pictorial content of the images, as well as on the contradiction of using elaborate, almost outdated and thus romantic printing methods to materialize digital photographs of the most banal subjects. Ultimately, I think, the work takes its energy from commonplace situations within the flux of images, the ongoing, mundane moments of our lives, from pure irony, and from something that Federico Galende refers to in modern art practice of the nineteenth-century: a type of art that finds projections of personal matters in the streets.
There are things that unfold constantly, that change before our eyes. Others appear immobile, but despite their inertia still change. One example of this is our own body and its moods, which are never the same on one day or the other, just as the constant distraction of its meandering thoughts. Something similar happens to stock markets, the color of the pages of a book, the money in my bank account, or the videos on Youtube’s homepage. It is a common, quotidian, domestic flux.
We could therefore think of life as ephemeral; a thin, slippery membrane that would always escape us. Something that would appear on screens, pages, decadent showcases or in the frescoes of some abandoned abbey; life would be made of wrappings, advertisements, price tags and letters; or, new, colored reflections.
It is said of liquids that flow that they cannot do so without a channel. This is how I would describe life, that it cannot go on unfolding without images which keep it in line, which serve as its medium.