Sep 11th 2009

Luis Gispert: You’re my favorite kind of American

@ Rhona Hoffman Gallery

118 N Peoria St, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, September 11th, from 5PM - 7PM

On view through Saturday, October 17th

Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to present You’re My Favorite Kind of American, an exhibition of new work by Luis Gispert. In this exhibition, his first at the gallery, Gispert creates portraits or interpretations of specific sectors of American life using large-scale photographs, sculpture, and video. As his work begins with the documentation of real people in their personal environments, Gispert’s genuine interest in the avocations and work of the people he portrays is exemplified in various mediums.

The three-channel synchronized film René depicts a family friend of Gispert’s who fled from Cuba and now works in a restaurant supply store in Miami repairing machinery. Gispert followed René around for two weeks to accumulate the footage, filming his daily routines and improvising narrative elements as he went along. Throughout the film Gispert incorporates his own scenarios into the narrative, thus transforming René’s role from that of a subject to that of a collaborator. Installed as a multi-channel projection, Gispert’s work allows the viewer to physically enter Renee’s environment. The three video channels compress 45 minutes of linear film time into 15 minutes by fracturing and overlapping events while still loosely following the arc of René’s daily routine.

Themes from Gispert’s previous films Smother and Stereomongrel are apparent in his large format photography. Through the perspective of the driver’s seat of military Humvees, customized luxury SUVs, and low-riders are superimposed landscapes which reference the sublime landscape and the history of landscape photography. Most importantly, however, all of these custom interiors are imbued with a narrative specifically connected to the owners. These narratives reveal a range of experiences derived from recent immigrants to middle-American truck drivers to World War II aviation buffs.

Gispert’s sculptures, which he describes as juxtapositions of pop icons that are often used to index cultural stereotypes, reference this idea of a narrative as well. The rock formations reference crack cocaine rocks and the heart- shaped subwoofers imbedded in them reference the outdoor speakers hidden in faux rock found in suburban pools and patios. The grape juice box and Newport cigarettes packaging color scheme are both products that are stereotypically associated with urban culture.

Gispert states, “All of these people from René to the vehicle owners are looking for a form of expression outside of their professional lives. I found their level of obsession with these forms is not too dissimilar form an artist in the studio. There is a level of earnestness in what these people do that I find very rare in contemporary art.”

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