Lordy Rodriguez returns with a fifth solo show at Hosfelt Gallery, “Code Switch.” Comprised of the artist’s signature use of cartographic and design elements, the show offers a world view that reads at first superficially, but later blooms to full depth. The show title, taken from linguistics, refers to a mash up of languages and speech patterns, building on Rodriguez’s examination of cultural hybridity, and reinforcing his place at the forefront of this contemporary art trend for pseudo-sociological examination. His, and other work like it, can be imagined as infographics, without the eponymous info, where the artist seeks to explore our need to examine and classify, rather than to make any direct statement about what is actually up for examination.
If there is one concept up for examination specifically in the show, it’s the role of design in global consumer culture and history, and the newish phenomena of celebrity artists such as Hirst and Murakami’s descent further into the marketplace outside of the art world; their “branding” usurping their actual practice in the discourse of their work. “Untitled 809 (Murakami/Kors)” pits the artist and designer, or the designer and the designer (both well known for their successful handbag lines, Murakami through a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, the design house’s signature pattern making up the “landmass” in the image) together for comparison.
In “Untitled 787 (Dots and Mushrooms)” Rodriguez makes use of Hirst’s famous “Dot” paintings, and a possible commentary on the atomic bomb like detonation and reach of his aesthetic and approach upon the global visual world. Less we think of design as shallow and meaningless, Rodriguez reminds us of the bonds historically elicited by strong design—in the woven clansman colors of “Untitled 807 (Tartans)” and the marriage of church and state in the kaliedescope of crosses and Confederate flags in “Untitled # 810 (Catholic Redneck)” —we’re given two excellent examples of how design has always permeated human understanding of place and belonging, and the ways in which it is used to create allegiances and set others apart.
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-Contributed by Kathryn McKinney