Prole, 2015. HD digital video, 8:47 min
Tertiary, 2018. HD digital video, 2:29 min
In Prole, Valenzuela focuses on a different group of men: Latino workers who have gathered to play soccer in an empty warehouse. Their uniforms are emblazoned with a union logo, and they eventually abandon their match to take up discussions of labor: how they view their work ethic, how they present themselves as workers to their American bosses, and what they feel is at stake in organizing as a union. Debate emerges within their conversation, highlighting how American culture’s emphasis on self-reliance and individualism conflicts with initiatives that foreground collectivism and the common good.
Tertiary depicts a group of aspiring actors while calling attention to the all-too-common practice in the film and television industries of populating scenes with people of color but relegating them to roles as extras. As the artist has noted, the artifice of “diversity” in casting is worsened by another form of discrimination: the facial recognition technology on most digital cameras has been calibrated for white-skinned faces and thus struggles to properly capture the faces of those with darker skin. In the narration that unfolds in Tertiary, these issues give way to broader reflections on recognition, visibility, and belonging in civic society and popular media.
Rodrigo Valenzuela (b. Santiago, Chile 1982) is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work focuses on recognition, visibility and belonging in civic society as it pertains to Latino bodies, labor issues and the blue-collar mindset. Valenzuela studied art history and photography at University of Chile, holds a BA in Philosophy from The Evergreen State College and an MFA from University of Washington. Recent residencies include Core Fellowship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; MacDowell Colony; Bemis Center for contemporary arts; Lightwork; and the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Recent solo exhibitions include Screen series at the New Museum, NY; Lisa Kandlhofer Galerie, Vienna, AU; Work in Its Place, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene; American-Type, Orange County Museum; Labor Standards, Portland Art Museum; New Land, McColl Center, Charlotte; Prole, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita; Future Ruins, Frye Art Museum, Seattle. Rodrigo Valenzuela is an assistant professor at University of California, Los Angeles and the recipient of the 2017 Joan Mitchell award for painters and sculptors.