June 2016 Artist in Residence: Oli Rodriguez

Eros et Psyché  from  The Last Seduction

Eros et Psyché from The Last Seduction

This month we're welcoming Oli Rodriguez as our Artist in Residence!

Oli will be working in the lab in June producing prints from a body of work entitled The Last Seduction including work that melds photography, new media installations, and video tableaus. This project focuses on the painting canon of the 19th century amidst colonialism and heterosexism. The Last Seduction involves re-photographing portraits based on Argentine and Uruguayan painters and their European contemporaries, and inserting portraits of queers and people of color into the paintings, who have been erased in histories of colonialism, queer phobia, and heterosexism.

Oli Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist working in video, photography, performance, installation and writing. Currently, he is faculty in the Photography Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). His projects conceptually intersect and dialogue within consent, queerness, childhood and sexuality. His exhibition, The Great Refusal: Taking on New Queer Aesthetics at SAIC is the first explicitly queer show at the institution. He is a part of the monograph Confronting the Abject, named after his research themed class  co-taught with Catherine Opie at SAIC. He just finished his book, The Papi Project, which archives the AIDS pandemic through his queer, people of color (POC) family in Chicago during the 1980’s.

Oli has screened, performed, lectured, and exhibited his works internationally and nationally at institutions and museums such as The Banff Centre; Schwarzer Kanal, Berlin, Germany; Smart Museum, University of Chicago; Bridge; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and The Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL.

LATITUDE asked Oli a few questions about his practice and his plans for his residency.

Your work occupies many visual forms such as live performance, video, photography, and sculpture. When do you decide what form a piece lives in? What do you make of the translation between these spaces?

I exist in hybridity and intersectionality while working through interdisciplinary mediums. Each project dictates its medium and often the project needs many mediums! Initially in the beginnings of a project the medium is unclear, the idea and research is primary. The conceptual idea dictates how I approach its fruition and birth into a medium.

Would you give some insight as to the role photography plays in your practice? What is the importance in both staging for a photograph and photographing as documentation, and how do these two relate to each other for you?

I work seamlessly between the two. Pun! Staging and documentation are two approaches I depend on to convey ideas and research in photography. Depending on the project, staging and documentary practices are necessary. In my current project, The Last Seduction, staging is entirely necessary to meld contemporary portraits with 19th century painting backgrounds.

What is your current project and what are you most excited to do during your residency at LATITUDE?

For my residency, I am interested in printing for an upcoming solo show next year. The series is called The Last Seduction and it includes appropriated 19th century paintings viewed in an exhibition of the same name in Buenos Aires at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA) (National Museum of Fine Arts). I am rephotographing, reinserting and then utilizing the 19th century paintings as backgrounds for the new media installations, video tableaux and photographic portraits. I am reinserting people of color as well as queer and trans identified peoples that have been erased in the 19th century painting art canon. The Last Seduction highlights the absence of people of color and the whitification of the subjects. Thus, my reinsertion is a revisualization and an active inclusion in the historical art canon that has historically erased representations of marginalized groups through institutionalized racism, colonialism and conceptions of whiteness and desire. I'm looking forward to experimenting with papers and printing for the solo show. I also am excited to utilize the drum scanner!


Stop by the lab this month and start a conversation with Oli. You’ll be in great company!

View more of Oli's work at olirodriguez.com