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christina lei rodriguez at rocket projects

Post #483 • March 1, 2005, 6:37 AM • 31 Comments

I have written positively about Christina Lei Rodriguez's work before, but her latest three creations at Rocket Projects came off awkwardly. Confining her manufactured gardens of plastic plant matter within walled slopes demonstrated that her work operates more convincingly in the round. My reaction to it reminds me of the one I had to Jacin Giordano's last show at Snitzer - both seemed like errant efforts of talented artists to push their art. The density of her work - like a lush, artificial garden awash in ectoplasm - looks convincing and well-wrought. But this format is too confining. They also remind me a bit of Fabian Marcaccio's so-called paintants in that limited passages work well but the whole objects don't, although I would rate Rodriguez's powers above Marcaccio's and expect to see her solve this problem one day.

Images courtesy Rocket Projects.

Some dreary show unworthy of critical examination is in the project room.




March 1, 2005, 7:16 PM

I was there two week ago.

Did you know that Christina Lei Rodriguez is half Japanese? Her mother is Japanese and father is Cuban. Her work may be a good example of one plus one is not equal to two. What I mean is that it is hard to see Japanese-ness in her work and hard to see Cuban-ness either.



March 1, 2005, 7:21 PM

Franklin, you need a new camera or know how to adjust the one you have to get the best of colors. All the pictures are farting!



March 1, 2005, 7:28 PM

Arigato. Pictures look okay to me. Anyone else think severely otherwise?



March 1, 2005, 7:29 PM

Interesting, Franklin. Your close-up shots of details are far more effective than those of the overall installations or assemblages. Maybe she should do photos and show those.



March 1, 2005, 7:32 PM

I need to reiterate here that the pictures come courtesy the gallery - I assume Nick Cindric or somebody helping him out took them.



March 1, 2005, 7:32 PM

The use of flash is a no-no especially with her work becuase they are all coated with shiny materials. The camera picks up mainly the reflection but not the color underneath. All you have to do is to turn off the flash and adjust the exposure according to the lights from ceiling.


Razzle dazzle

March 1, 2005, 7:42 PM

MoMO: I don't thonk you really understand Cristina Lei's work. She also has a sculptrure at the Rubell Collection.



March 1, 2005, 7:43 PM

I agree with Jack.

These seem "half way", conceptually. The slanted "window box" doesn't work.

If they were presented pictorially, or as dioramic environments, they would be much more effective, either way.



March 1, 2005, 7:49 PM

I am more than happy to take the challenge IF I have time to go there and shoot some. Maybe the ones posted are as good as anyone can get, or maybe not.



March 1, 2005, 9:08 PM

the picutres look pretty fishy to me. is the floor in there purple? i'm going to have to stop by; i wasn't a fan of this stuff before, but the piece I saw recentyl at the Rubell was pretty ace, and, yeah, the close-ups here look great. might make sense in person.

Jack is on to something with the photo idea, although the fact that these things are tough enough to survive as objects is impressive - the one at the Rubell is installed outside!



March 1, 2005, 9:10 PM

Oldpro - What do you mean by "dioramic environment"? Take the same work but put it on a table?

The work also includes the "rain" hanging from the ceiling, echoing the "water" [wax] spilling over the plant matter. I think you'd need to maintain that floor-to-ceiling effect, as well as making sure the viewer gets the sense that the plant matter itself itself is also cascading, or at least fighting gravity.



March 1, 2005, 9:14 PM

Hovig: you may be onto something - I think these would would work well as full-scale installations, floor-to-ceiling, and maybe even as wall pieces. I found the bits of lucite "rain" extraneous though.



March 1, 2005, 9:17 PM

Yes, like a diorama, rain or no rain. The slanting seems arbitrary and that perception (for me) weakens the pieces. Also the way the parts are gathered and presented seems to inhibit perception of their physical qualities.

There is also a distinct sensual quality to the parts and the way they go in and out of resemblence to actual vegetation. Exaggerating this and putting the result flat or on the wall would be much more effective. Or perhaps just spreading them all around the space.



March 1, 2005, 11:55 PM

A full-scale installation sounds good to me, calling it "Over the Rainbow" or something.



March 2, 2005, 12:15 AM

Maybe "under the Rainbow"



March 2, 2005, 12:19 AM

The angled trays just don't work. They're too stiff, linear and harsh, too clinical, to go with their lush "organic" contents. They also somehow put me in mind of the gardening section at Home Depot. They make the work, which is already overtly synthetic, look even more artificial and contrived. That may have been the idea, but for me it's counterproductive.



March 2, 2005, 1:13 AM

I still think the slant is important for the way I read the work. I mean, I'm 1000 miles away, so I can't walk around and tell for sure, but I think it all works okay. I see it as a kind of self-contained mini rain-forest in a kind of balancing act between earth and sky. I'm sorry to hear that the lucite hanging from the ceilings seem extraneous, because in my reading of the work, it's that lucite that turns it from a "window box" into a fuller environment.

There's a lot of movement in the piece, first off. Rain falls, plants grow. So we've already got the whole up-down movement going. But then you've got the whole slanted "window box" thing, something else for the plants to fight against. Like a guy balancing on a seesaw in the rain. Look at the one with all the cactii bunched at the bottom. Then there's a lot of "movement" in the color too. Lots of intense vibrant colors, all competing for attention and moving your eye around. These things are all about movement. I'm not a fan of the plant shapes and colors, but I can see how the work fits together.

And also, speaking of movement, the trays aren't slanted from left to right, like they might be if they were "window boxes" falling off a back porch, but from front to back, which means it's either in your way as you walk along the wall, or it's presenting itself to you as you walk toward it. But then the lucite makes you keep your distance. I know I'm not there in person, but it just seems like there'd be a lot of tension and movement there. I figured people who are into abstract expressionism would be interested in the conflicts and movements formed by a few simple sweeping gestures: the tray slanting up and leaning against the wall, the rain and water and slides and wax all falling down, the plants growing upward, and the lucite both making a fuller environment as it also puts up a barrier. On the downside, again, the plants' colors and shapes don't quite do it for me, but that might simply be because artificial plants are expensive to acquire. On the whole I think the works are worth a look.



March 2, 2005, 2:22 AM

Hovig - they're definitely worth a look. You're stretching a bit, I think, on the functionality of the shapes. Conceptually they could be justified but visually they're awkward. Actually, one view not seen above works pretty well - looking straight down into them. In that direction they lay out kind of nicely in a cascade of activity. The movement and busy-ness are definitely prominent. At the time they made me consider that if they had been built up like a hill against the wall - sort of a half-dome - there would be no out-of-place geometry on the sides and you would get that cascade effect from any available view.



March 2, 2005, 3:05 AM

Interesting ideas. You're right, I'm only speaking conceptually, and would love to see the reality. I'm actually most disappointed that you said (in your earlier comment about the lucite bars) that they didn't activate the space above them, to the ceiling. I'm intrigued by the concept of a cascade from ceiling to floor. But back to what you just said about the "dome," what did you think about the piece where there was some plant matter spilling over the sides of the tray (photo #2)? (It's a slight effect, admittedly).



March 2, 2005, 3:16 AM

Razzle dazzle: I have seen the one at the Rubell Collection not too long ago if that's what you are talking about. It was placed on the ground outside together with other large pieces. If not, then I have not seen it.

Sure, I don't "really understand" her work, but I don't have to "really understand" her work to stay alive. Thank you for your concern.



March 2, 2005, 6:14 AM

Well, Momoko, since "Razzle dazzle" presumably understands the work, I think s/he should enlighten those of us who may not be so fortunate.



March 2, 2005, 7:10 AM

I disagree with Momoko's first comment. I was thinking (abstractly) ikebana before I got to the comments and saw that she is part Japanese.

Not "three flowers" in a vase ikebana, more like pachinko parlor plastic ikebana. I'm not saying anything +/- about the work, just responding to Momoko's post.

I'm not Razzle-Dazzle.



March 2, 2005, 6:11 PM

The problem with taking pictures at Rocket Projects, during the daytime especially, is the different light sources and getting a good color balance. It's not easy.



March 2, 2005, 6:17 PM

Martin, perhaps I am not able to recognize Japanese-ness in things because I grew up with them and feel that they are too natural for me. I would like to believe that I am beyond cultural influences, but I do things like a Japanese and say things like a Japanese no matter how hard I try to get rid of my Japanese-ness.

Since you can talk about pachinko parlor, you are more Japanese than I am.



March 2, 2005, 8:09 PM

I won't presume to educate Momoko about Japanese-ness, but this work strikes me as very South Florida and certainly very Rocket Projects.



March 2, 2005, 9:16 PM

The colorful show reminds me of an edited "Rainforest Cafe" ......without the animated animals and the thousand screaming children...



March 2, 2005, 9:57 PM

Don't get "beyond" cultural influence, Momoko. Welcome them. They are part of you. The trick is not to get beyond them but to do something good with them.

"Rainforest Cafe" indeed. That's about it. I want art.



March 3, 2005, 2:06 AM

Sorry Momoko - I'll try to stay away from all comments Japanese from now on. I wasn't thinking Japanese-ness, just a vague idea of ikebana at the back of my head that came to the fore upon reading your first comment - and in an effort to be fair to the artist wanted to share that.



March 13, 2005, 4:45 PM

well, i guess based on that it has "been reviewed well before" i assume that this is a negative review. I missed the previous reviews and comments. So ifelt a lack of discussion on a conceptual framework. Although the technical observations and advice seemed quite helpful or at least intended to be so. It leads me to think that you are her friend. I mean that in that i recently read the posch at blue review and comments and those comments did not seem like they wre made to a friend or genuinely meant to help. Those are my two cents on tone. So next since there is a lack of mention as to what or why it is, here is a (my) conceptual appreciation. Plastic flowers. I will take it either as a reflection of personal identification or a reflection of the environment. Since all i really know about the person is that she is a strikingly beautiful girl, young and recognized in her profession, i will stay away from trying to delve into why "she made this". Instead, having been in miami for close to a year now, can say how "miami made this". Starting with the slightly cliched notions of miami, Plastic flamingoes and neons, its nice to add the flora to the fauna. Brightly colored plants covered in an almost ectoplasmic residue just has quite a bit to interpret, but it assumes a lot to be able to interpret it. Technically, i think it lacks control, and while that may be the purpose of the "drip", or the way weeds are not controlled, i think art requires that sense of harmonious control. I always think that work is always in some evolutionary path in all ways, but I make this comment based on that i have seen a lot of her work around on different occasions and they seem the same(if at least reconfigured), so the growth is somewhere other than technical development. In this case it begins to get personal and i am not that familiarized with the person.


taterh###333d/z MARKZ--//--

March 13, 2005, 5:09 PM

"Miami made this." I love that. A million different ways to approach that statement; shades of collective unconscious.

Also the issue of control/not control is an interesting issue in art, although it's worth pointing out that rodriguez's work is sturdy enough to survive outdoors, so clearly she's not just slapping things on; there is some sort of real craft here.



March 14, 2005, 7:56 PM

The long lastingness is a virtue of the materials. Plastic is a material that is nearly guaranteed not to decompose for about 500 years, or at least 250 based on speculation, given that it has not been around for those 250 years, or even a hundred. yet there is an angle to be taken into consideration at the point of craft; yellowing, sufficient thickness, density, uv protection through the addition or inclusion of said protectant, density, and destiny. In the end, if it lasts one month without change is something even bare plaster can do exposed to the elements, but give it a few years and the same plaster will look like coral-caverns,erosion,etc... but the permanence of the piece itself is something of little consequence, everything at some point, if intended to be preserved will need some sort of conservation measures to be taken. and this is where the issue of control comes into play-will it be a dream or a nightmare to restore. But again, if it's really only about the "thing" embodied, that it will outlast us, frozen in a cryogenic state, to be seen as it was when it was made, well....there is something about that i have trouble with. I dont think that the piece belongs to the person who owns it, it is an image that is carried by anyone and everyone who has interacted with it. that it should decay in time is another experience to be seen and appreciated. I could go on but i feel.....too insistent on this point, trying to cover all the angles, when really i just want to clarify. i hope i have.



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