Whitney Biennial 2017

Solo en Inglès


Piece of tree trunk on a wrought-iron bar in gridded base

Harold Mendez (b. 1977) American Pictures, 2016. Reclaimed wrought iron, wood, crushed cochineal insects, staples, industrial work mats, and carnations, 72 x 48 x 48 in. (182.9 x 121.9 x 121.9 cm) Private collection; courtesy the artist and PATRON Gallery, Chicago


Harold Mendez: This piece here, American Pictures, is essentially a tree that grew through a fence that I found in the third ward in Houston.

Narrator: Harold Mendez.

Harold Mendez: It's covered in these cochineal insects, which [are] used primarily for pigment. So I've crushed the insects and then applied a wax to the sculpture, pressed the crushed insects into the wood, so it has this very velvety deep crimson color. I wanted to use, in a poetic way, one body like sort of crushing that body that had this red blood color to represent another kind of body.

It's really memorializing victims. I don't want it to be so literal because it's not. The material is really helping inform the work in a tremendous way. But the object itself looks like a flayed carcass or a flayed body, so I'm thinking definitely about violence in America, absolutely.