|The work of Víctor Grippo (Junín, 1936 - Buenos Aires, 2002) unfolded in the highly charged political climate of Buenos Aires in the seventies, an exciting time of intellectual ferment in which culture emerged on the streets. In such an atmosphere of a popular search for knowledge, the possibility of creating new thoughts, of resignifying the objects that Grippo (a trained chemist) presented opened up a new path in the field of art. |
In 1970 Grippo presented his work Analogía I (Analogy I) at the exhibition entitled Arte de sistemas held at the Museo de Arte Moderno of Buenos Aires (MAMBA). His intention was to transcend the ordinariness of a familiar object, the potato, measuring the energy it produced by means of a wooden grid holding forty potatoes arranged in cells, each of which is equipped with a zinc and a copper electrode. Using a voltmeter, viewers were able to measure the electric energy generated (0.7 volts each potato).
The choice of a humble foodstuff like the potato that becomes an image of mental energy by analogy is not gratuitous. Grippo uses it to make a case for the value of his country and its cultural construction, and as a consecration of basic modest everyday objects.
In this way Grippo’s work covers a trajectory from the major arts to the basis of society. His gaze is vertical, moving from the plant energy to the energy of human creativity, from the visible to the invisible, inviting communication with the secret ins and outs of certain commonplace objects.
Grippo believes in labour as the force that constitutes man, the key to attaining his chief objective: man’s transformation through the exercise of a trade. The five basic trades in society appear connected in the work entitled Algunos oficios (Some Trades, 1976): the blacksmith, the carpenter, the stonemason, the farmer and the bricklayer.
The paradigmatic work of this specific connection with labour is Construcción de un horno popular para hacer pan (Construction of a popular oven for baking bread), an installation in the framework of the group show Arte e ideología: CAYC al aire libre.1 censored by the police. In contrast with the sense of disapproval and of urgency that characterised many of the installations by other artists in the square, by building an oven Grippo was working in another register, where what prevailed was a will to restore and preserve community values. By setting up a central space of exchange, he ‘established a precarious community that lasted as long as it took to make and eat the bread. … A quiet, transitory community shaped by an unwilling and unwitting commitment to a commonplace practice, summoned by a gratuitous action that was offered as a gift.’2
Excerpt from the text by Alicia Chillida published in the exhibition cataloge.
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