Adrián Villar Rojas – Today We Reboot The Planet at Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Today We Reboot The Planet not only welcomes the young Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas’ first UK exhibition, but it is also the inaugural celebration of the Serpentine’s brand new Sackler Gallery.
Villar Rojas’ site-specific work fills the space that was once London’s former secret ammunition store, The Magazine, and which remains unassuming with its neo-classical façade. His life-size sculptures effortlessly breathe much-needed vitality into the listed building for the first time in over 200 years.
Through the entrance, a massive elephant’s bottom impedes any visitor’s expectations for a conventional gallery opening exhibition, as much of the elephant’s head is crushed by its forceful charge into the wall. Footsteps chime with a delicate clink from the red bricks that Villar Rojas has placed throughout the gallery, referencing his corresponding project at a traditional brickworks in Rosario, Argentina.
Everything in Villar Rojas’ show is made from clay, which is paralleled by the earthy smell and feel of the surrounding building. There is also an apparent sense of frozen time, like the elephant’s chaotic halted motion and the historic architectural characteristics of The Magazine.
Clay is a primitive material, and the timelessness of Villar Rojas’ creations echo fossilisation and, most importantly for this exhibition, the rebirth of the earth. As the artist explains, the medium grants “an encyclopaedia of possibility, a mirrored planet”, and within the actual walls of one of two gunpowder storerooms, this encyclopaedia comes in a visual sculptural form. Objects from the contemporary world (from an iPod to an effigy of Kurt Cobain) and from nature (such as fish, birds and vegetables) are displayed in a laboratory-like manner on glass shelves upon glass shelves.
With the notion of regeneration, life forms exist as vegetables growing from within clay sculptures, yet their decay is inevitable and even already evident. This whole exhibition deflates boundaries of what is art and what is life. Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Serpentine Gallery’s co-director, commented: “To be with art is all we ask”. For Villar Rojas, life and art are equal to the importance of existence.
Adrián Villar Rojas: Today We Reboot The Planet is on at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery from 28th September until 10th November 2013, for further information visit here.