• November 12, 2003
  • Posted by Marc

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada—In His Own Words

Upon returning from Mozambique last week, our
mailbox was filled with messages from people all over the world who raved about
how much they loved the guest curators.  The care that each curator took in
their posts was absolutely outstanding - far beyond the call of duty.  One of
the little presents that Swoon left for us was an email exchange that she had
with Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. Orginally intended to be included in her posts last
week, here’s a wonderful interview with one of the most intriguing artists
around— Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. Enjoy.


/>Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada in his own words:

How did I get started?
When I was in college I felt an afinity for the work of very different artists
that injected art into the urban landscape(Chris Burden, Christo, Barbara
Kruger and others).I met the future members of Artfux at Jersey City State
College (now New Jersey City University). We started changing billboards in
order to bring attention to the problem of disproportionate advertising in
minority areas. We also staged socially charged street actions and performances. 
We once blocked of Wall street with a vinyl banner with reinforcing cables that
was padlocked from light post to light post on either side of the street. We
painted an american flag motif with headless bussines men in a chorus line on
the banner. It was related to the issue of loans to third world countries that
got stolen by those in power but had to be paid back by the population of these
countries. I made a ceramic sculpture of Jesse Helms and then destroyed it on
the Capitol steps after we staged a mock trial. That was for his attacks on NEA
funding. We wanted to make a change. We had no fear… We were too intense to be
able to stay together very long.


other street artists do I most admire and why? I have seen a good amount of
street art, performance, music, cyber happenings and combinations of these. I
admire any street artist who wants to solidly know why they do what they do by
constantly digging deep into themselves for an answer.. Just relentlessly
putting stuff out there for the hype or street cred is empty and stays that

What’s your favorite city, neighborhood, or block, to post
and/or to see street art? My favorite city is and will always be NEW YORK CITY! 
Other citys are really cool and interesting but NYC is the reason I am who I am.
Right now I am interested in getting to know Europe. I am staying in Barcelona
after recieving a grant to continue my work in urban art here.

inspires me now? Reading Naom Chomsky. I feel like Neo after swallowing the pill
everytime I read his work.

What am I currently working on? I am
working on alot of different directions at once as an artist. But of course the
urban art is my main direction.My motivation is to establish a conversation with
the community, utilizing art to initiate a dialogue.

While using
charcoal to render large-scale portraits of neighborhood residents I transform
every day people into icons. Through this unexpected outcome I delve into what
evaluates and reinforces identity within the urban dynamic.

images I bring forth fade and then disappear within a 2 to 6 months period. Upon
completion of the drawing, the evolution of the piece leaves my control as an
artist and becomes determined by factors which are completely external; (factors
such as wind, rain, or architectural metamorphosis). As the charcoal fades so
does the importance of a well executed portrait which is faithful to the sitter.
We are then allowed to reflect on the concept of memory and legacy.

/>My work questions how public space is managed, who decides its destiny, which
are the role models that represent our society and what are the events which are
guarded by our collective recollections. It also touches upon the lasting or
fading effects of fame and popularity (as much for the protagonists whose images
become part of the cityscape as for the artist who created them ) and how they
are linked to circumstances as arbitrary as luck and destiny.



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