2008 Biennial

Bert Rodriguez

In the Beginning

“My name is Bert Rodriguez. The title of the piece is In the Beginning.  Basically the project is a white cube inside the colonel’s room at the Park Avenue Amory building. I got the invitation to be part of the project and proposed something, and then I visited the space beforehand and just realized how impossible it was going to be to actually compete with the space. And I thought, ‘Wow, the white cube.’ And then that became a metaphor for the Art Space and Minimalism and Art History and all the loaded stuff that that brings to the space. And the inside of the cube actually functions as an office, where I hold sessions with anyone from the public who either signs up on the website or signs up at the front desk.

“Well typically the way it works out, they come in and they sit down. And there is a bit of a sort of guard when they first show up. And I don’t know if it’s the actual space. I don’t know if it’s me. I don’t know if it’s a combination of all of it. But there is something that makes these people feel comfortable enough and trusting enough in me, to just sort of open up. At the end of the project, my plan is to come up with a specific idea for an artwork that they can make that comes from that conversation. In thinking about this one patient in particular, this idea of commitment kept coming up.  And I remember writing down, ‘plant a tree.’ So I’m thinking that for her, the idea that she can plant this plant, and she’s going to have to follow through with it, so that in the process of caring for this thing she’s constantly reminded of whatever experience that was. I’m actually just offering the opportunity for the public itself to dump their baggage on me, and me sort of come up with an assumption and an understanding of them. And then in turn actually give them the opportunity to become the artist, sort of after the fact, and go through that cycle.

“I normally like just setting up a bunch of variables that are kind of threaded together by an idea, which was sort of like the therapy thing. And just kind of see what happens. And yes, I guess probably secretly I hoped there would be some kind of authentic, sincere, intimate exchange between two people and that I actually in some way formed a relationship with these people, or had some unique experience with them and somehow found some camaraderie, or some comfort in that. That’s pretty amazing to me.”