Erased and Found Lines. Jorge Méndez Blake at the 13th Istanbul Biennale

Jorge Méndez Blake who is famous for connecting literature and words with form, object and architecture presented a series of drawings at the 13th Istanbul Biennale for Contemporary Arts. Like in The Humument, when you make a drawing out of someone’s text, you are becoming the author, and it is your charge to decide what message it is going to bring now.


The Poet’s House and The House The Poet Built

Artist Jorge Méndez Blake lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was born in 1974 and has already gained popularity. His first exhibitions were held in his native Guadalajara city, Mexico in 1999–2000. Since that time he has been taking part in group exhibitions all over Latin America (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia), in the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and in many European countries (France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, etc.). He has had solo exhibitions as well in Europe (Spain, Belgium, Italy) and in the USA, and, of course, Mexico.

Jorge Mendez Blake

Video screenshot

This year at the 13th Istanbul Biennale for Contemporary Arts Jorge Méndez Blake showed two works. One of them has already become famous. That was The Castle (El Castillo) at the entrance of the Antrepo n.3 space where most of the main program works were presented.

IMG_4171The work reflected both main interests of the artist: literature and architecture. The Castle was a wall made of bricks. There is no foundation in such constructions of his which could make us think that something which is seemingly permanent (as a brick wall) might not have this quality at all. On the basement of the wall there is a book “El Castello” by Franz Kafka. It is confusing to decide whether this book plays a role of steadying or destabilizing the permanence and, may be, insurance the wall embodies. At the same time in Kafka’s sphere the castle represents both the site of power and the site of knowledge that will unravel the mysteries of the particular world. In Jorge Méndez Blake’s installation the book seems to be an object of desire and a representation of both the potential (knowledge) and the impossibility of accessing this very knowledge.


The Castle (El Castello)

Another project by Jorge Méndez Blake which was presented at the Biennale consisted of a series of drawings. Sources for drawings were poems which were taken out the books. But not just the text of the poem became an inspiration for Méndez Blake, the whole page became a source for art.

Two wallsFor the first sight, it is very much the same technique as Tom Phillips used in The Humunent. Phillips liked the idea of operating on source texts to make entirely new documents. To my opinion, Jorge Méndez Blake does not go that far. He left almost the whole text of the original poem. But at the same time he hid some lines which seemed not important for him by making the colour of the text flowing from very light grey to almost black and light red to red, or by hiding the text with light grey colour and underlying some words with bold black or red. This is not about creating another poem, this is about claiming one’s one statement.

Two Walls

Nastasia Rozhkova

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