Visual Arts Program

Saturday, April 21, 2007 — Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ruben Ochoa

Clastic Rupture

Presented at:

Ruben Ochoa - <em>Clastic Rupture</em>
Ruben Ochoa - <em>Clastic Rupture</em>
Ruben Ochoa - <em>Clastic Rupture</em>
Ruben Ochoa - <em>Clastic Rupture</em>

In the Clastic Rupture works, Los Angeles artist Ruben Ochoa continues his practice of resituating what is normally neglected into a more charismatic light. At the heart of the current work are photographic pop-up cutouts of the ficus trees that are ubiquitous in Southern California. In Ochoa's works, the ficus—like many species, a replanted tree not native to Los Angeles—becomes a complicated metaphor for individual displacement within a difficult and potentially hostile environment and persisting against the odds. Ochoa's ficus trees are clearly displaced in the concrete panorama of Los Angeles, yet persist and prevail in a harsh setting. While one ficus may be degraded by a strip of paint applied along the curb it shares with the street, most of Ochoa's trees are found with roots swelling, busting open the concrete environs that would typically encase them. And despite an unforgiving setting, they bloom and flourish with undeniable grace and eloquence.

While "clastic" refers to rocks composed of fragments of other rocks, as well as the ability to separate something into parts to enable better study, Clastic Rupture sounds like a souped-up version of breakage. There is a swooping hot rod aesthetic in Ochoa's ficus images—whether the long curvy line of a root or the sexy profile of the entire tree. Realized within the hermetic environment of plexiglass pedestals, Ochoa's images are given a prismatic otherworldly element, as though this vegetation so commonplace to Los Angeles were resplendent in magical properties.

If Ochoa's ficus is a metaphor for the large numbers of displaced immigrants (legal or not) throughout Southern California, it functions as a signifier of inevitability, a member of the community whose roots are deep and powerful and becoming more enmeshed in its environment every day. The question is not whether the ficus is disrupting its adopted environment, but to what degree it is radically transforming it and forcing the environment to respond to it.

It is perhaps not a rupture, but a new amalgam.

Some publications related to this event:
April, 2007 - 2007