sujeto cuantificado: quantified subject
curated by isabella achenbach
25 march - 07 may 2023
Washington DC: von ammon co is pleased to announce Sujeto Cuantificado: Quantified Subject, a solo exhibition by Ignacio Gatica. Sujeto Cuantificado: Quantified Subject is the 23rd exhibition at the gallery’s current location, and the artist’s first presentation with von ammon co. The exhibition is organized by New York-based curator Isabella Achenbach.
Ignacio Gatica uses language, currency, and the technologies of urban space as material to reveal the transactional operations that dictate contemporary life. Sujeto Cuantificado: Quantified Subject exhibits these transactions as both myopic and mythic in scale—from boarded-up designer stores, closed to shoppers and looters alike in times of civic unrest, to the true, incomprehensible numbers illuminating the world’s most indebted countries. Gatica’s work highlights the tragedy and nonsensicality of life fifty years into postmodernity. He does so with a transnational scope, tracing neoliberal economic policies initiated from Wall Street to the White House, while he lives and works between New York City and his country of origin, Santiago, Chile.
Gatica is interested in the inherent abstraction of currency——from printed money to the invention of credit to digital financialization——made ever more arcane over time. His interest, and ensuing body of work, stems from a history that is personal to the artist. Fifty years ago, in 1973, Chile became the experiment for American free trade market systems under the new authoritarian rule of Augusto Pinochet. A group of Chilean economists, trained under the American Milton Friedman, were deployed to initiate an entirely new economy through a shock therapy program. This turn, and social rupture, was supported financially by the Nixon Administration, reflecting the enduring struggle for economic hegemony during the Cold War. Born during Pinochet’s rule, this socioeconomic landscape affects the artist's outlook on life and art.
Debt-bolstering systems loom large in Gatica’s presentation of new and ongoing works at von ammon co. The installation incorporates credit cards, both functional and purely aesthetic, deadpan imagery of boarded up or emptied retail stores, real-time debt calculations from World Bank data, and a dynamic, evolving index from the New York Stock Exchange. Across the work is a contemporary, universal symbology—brand names, logos, and inflated US dollar numbers. The effect for the viewer is a self-awareness of the omnipresence of this hollow material across cultures. For Gatica, it’s also a commentary on the absence of translation in an accelerated and globalized economy. The name “Visa” was given to the first Bank of America credit card because it sounds the same in nearly every language.
One piece, Stones Above Diamonds DC, alters the statistic-driven, documentary nature of Gatica’s work. In this multimedia installation, artist-made credit cards are programmed with unique phrases gathered from graffiti and street memos collected by the artist around New York and Santiago at times of mass protest. Inside the gallery, visitors can swipe the cards at a reader, which re-programs an LED stock ticker to display the anonymous, poetic messages——in both Spanish and English. This sudden shift in language, from company prices to a far more urgent rhetoric, cuts out an otherwise never-ending cycle of symbolic wealth disparity, and replaces it with humanizing calls for collectivity and basic equality.
Ignacio Gatica (b. 1988, Santiago) lives and works in New York. Gatica has exhibited at SculptureCenter, New York (2022); Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annandale-on- Hudson, NY (2022); Fundación Marso, Mexico City (2019); El Museo del Barrio, New York (2018); Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo (2018); Fondation Hippocrène, Paris (2017); and Galería Gabriela Mistral, Santiago (2016); among others. Features of his work have been published in Mousse, The New York Times, and Balcony Magazine.