Art Review: A Violent Memorial at The MAC

Towards the back of the project room at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, light projects through the bullet-perforated skin of Hugo Garcia Urrutia’s monolithic gold cube, spattering a constellation of illuminated patterns across nearby walls. Garcia Urrutia’s work, “Making a Killing,” we are told by the artist and curator Charissa Terranova in a statement, is a reaction to Mexico’s drug related violence. A metaphor for the country, its punctured skin referencing the death of innocents caught in a spray of brutality, light erupting from it’s confines. Seen in this way, the gold cube presents a portrait of a culture once closed and complicit in secrecy, no longer able to contain the atrocities committed.

Formally, Garcia Urrutia’s large aluminum piece references Judd’s architectural cubes, but subverts the minimalist notion through the incorporation of light and gold, materials which we can take as symbolic references to spirituality and money. Cordoning off the interior light-emitting space with golden barriers, the work isolates the audience, denying entry and assigning the role of outside observer. We may only view the aftermath of the violence, a staccato pattern recorded into the skin of the cube, which simultaneously creates a series of voyeuristic peepholes from which to view the internal workings.

Conceptually, the piece investigates complex issues related to segregation of the commons, architecture as site for violence, and the contradiction inherent in forcing secrecy. However, the piece is too pretty to develop a gritty activism or prolonged indignant anger. More importantly the use of light (reminiscent of several World Trade Center proposals) references those lost victims, obliging “Making a Killing” to function as a memorial, trading outrage for remembrance.

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