The transgression of the body

Carlos Herrera

In his teenage years, Carlos Herrera studied painting under Raúl Domínguez and Ambrosio Gatti, two masters from Argentina’s Litoral region. In 1998-99 he took part in workshops at the School of Humanities and Art, Universidad Nacional, Rosario, Argentina. Since 2000 he has exhibited his work individually and collectively in Argentina and abroad. In 2009 he had a solo show titled Temperatura Perfecta at Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas in Buenos Aires, where he presented an extensive suite of photographs. In 2010-2011 he received the Kuitca UTDT grant and, in 2011 won the 1st Petrobras arteBA Award for Autorretrato sobre mi muerte. That same year he took part in the Istanbul Biennial. His intimate projects consist of installations, video and audio documentation, photography, sculpture, and actions.

A project for Atlántica by Atlántica de Carlos Herrera. Text by Raúl Flore

For seventeen years of work I accompanied Carlos Herrera in the production of bodies that were constructed out of the darkness of a film theatre and the humid rehearsal spaces of garage bands. From videos in which he handles sausages, bananas, and viscous fluids to photographs of young men between fifteen and twenty-five whose bodies and accoutrements are like well-aimed shots fired at the spectator whose gaze intersects them. Bundles made of football boots, second-hand sports clothes, and intimate elements of anonymous people hang from the walls like votive offerings. These young men from the slums of the Pampas convey to us the habits and customs of the tribes that seem to have ushered Herrera into the development of his career and sensibility. The untitled black-and-white photos from the Portraits series reflect such male rituals as a pissing contest on concrete. The artist invited a group of friends from his own personal circle, as well as others with whom he shared the night, alcohol, and everyday life, to take part in this ritual, which began at noon on a sunny afternoon with barbecued meat washed down by plenty of beer. To achieve his purpose Herrera hosted it in his own backyard, setting aside the large concrete patio as a place for them to urinate. He then used a stepladder as a large tripod from which to record from above the traces left by each piss, as a kind of portrait.

This performative rite of initiation altered forever the artist’s intimate system of working, not only in relation to the subject as model but in his relational engagement with the medium. All of these operations are taken to their maximum expression in COBRE MISERIA MIERDA, his latest one-person show. In a vast nave divided into three thematic axes, a large photographic mural shows us the artist and another man, whose body is eroticised by makeshift clothing and leather accessories, carrying out ordinary, everyday actions like eating, pissing, washing, sleeping, and shitting. After passing through a copper-coloured curtain, wooden contraptions create a sense of shelter and containment where the idea of death exists side-by-side with sexuality. A half-naked performer walks along the length of the wall, arriving at a collection of flimsy, subtly-detailed clothing to be worn and modelled.

The body of the other and its rituals reveal passion made flesh-body.

Raúl Flore. January 2017

Title: Untitled, from the series “Portraits”
Technique: Digital black-and-white photograph of the act of pissing on concrete
Dimensions: 19 x 27 cm
Year: 2004
Edition: unique copy plus artist’s proof

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