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Biography

damian_ortega_coliseum_diagram_of_time_2017

damián ortega

1967, Mexico City

With his sense of wit and humor, Damián Ortega deconstructs familiar objects and processes, altering their functions and transforming them into novel experiences and scenarios. Ortega’s work plays with a scale that ranges from the molecular to the cosmic, as the art critic Guy Brett says, Ortega combines the cosmic with the accidental, applying the concepts of physics to human interactions where chaos, accidents and instability produce a system of relations in flux. Inverting and dissecting, reconfiguring and zooming in, he explores the tension that underlies every object and the infinite world inside them. The result of his inquiries reveals the interdependence of diverse components either within a complex engineered machine, or a social system. Envisioning his projects through drawing – that then take form as sculpture, installation, performance, film and photography – for Ortega, the work of art is always an action: an event. His experiments inhabit a space where possibility and the everyday converge, to activate a transcendent new way of looking at simple objects and routine interactions.  

Damián Ortega began his career as a political cartoonist. He joined Gabriel Orozco’s workshop Taller de los viernes from 1987 to 1992. In 2005 he was nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize and in 2007 was nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst. Similarly in 2014 he received the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution and in 2006 he made an artistic residency at Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) in Berlin.

Among his work it is important to mention Alias Editorial, a project that started in 2006 which seeks the publication of essential and fundamental texts within contemporary art that have been discontinued or have not been translated into spanish, as well as having been written by the artists themselves or being interviews with them. In the same way and thanks to its austere edition, Alias makes the acquisition of such texts affordable for the public.

Damián Ortega lives and works in Mexico City.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails

sisters; hermanas, 2019–2020

bricks, corn, squash, chiles, beans

variable dimensions

sisters; hermanas, 2019–2020

bricks, corn, squash, chiles, beans

variable dimensions

replicant stone, 2019

silicon bronze

120.87 x 60.63 x 63.39 in.

installation view of estridentópolis, adrian rosenfeld gallery, san francisco, 2019

donkey tower, 2019

cardboard, styrofoam, kraft paper, pine wood, balsa wood and cement bags "empire state", shreve, lamb and harmon, new york, usa

101.18 x 34.25 x 19.69 in.

gorilla building, 2019
cardboard, styrofoam, kraft paper, pine wood, balsa wood and cement bags "habitat 67" moshe safdie, montreal, canada
77.56 x 68.9 x 35.43 in.

working skin, 2019
kraft paper and cement sack cuttouts
two pieces 11.02 x 3.15 x 7.09 in.

huipil, 2019
kraft paper and cement sack cuttouts
19.69 x 27.56 in.

istmeñan pattern, 2019
kraft paper and cement sack cuttouts
20.08 x 24.8 in.

warp cloud, 2018
plaster balls covered in bee wax, cotton thread, stainless steel wire, 5oz. lead weights
114.17 x 216.54 x 708.66 in. installed
installation view at echigo tsumari art triennale, japan, 2018

 

warp cloud, 2018
plaster balls covered in bee wax, cotton thread, stainless steel wire and 5oz. lead weights
114.17 x 216.54 x 708.66 in. installed
installation view at echigo tsumari art triennale, japan, 2018

 

the modern garden, 2018

variable dimensions

installation view at the garage museum of contemporary art, moscow, 2018

modern garden 29, 2018
steel and concrete
47.24 x 90.55 x 47.24 in.
installation view of modern garden, garage museum of contemporary art, moscow, 2018

the modern garden, 2018

variable dimensions
installation viewat the garage museum of contemporary art, moscow, 2018

torch lamp, 2017
aluminum, copper, acrylic
installed: 4816.93 in.

coliseum: diagram of time, 2017
pigmented concrete
variable dimensions
installation view of play time, white cube bermondsey, london, 2017

 

 

coliseum: diagram of time, 2017
pigmented concrete

variable dimensions

installation view of play time, white cube bermondsey, london, 2017

monumento, 2016
cotton canvas, ethafoam, ironwork, cotton thread, henequen thread, wood, screws and washers, ink and crayon plotter transfer
511.81 x 59.06 x 131.89 in.
installation view of el cohete y el abismo, palacio de cristal, museo nacional centro de arte reina sofía, madrid, 2016

 

torre latinoamericana, 2016
nappa leather beef, silica sand, metal tube, gabardine, waxed thread, ink and crayon plotter transfer
130.71 x 27.56 x 27.56 in.
installation view of el cohete y el abismo, palacio de cristal, museo nacional centro de arte reina sofía, madrid, 2016

 

lava waves, 2016
set of 33. clay from oaxaca, mexico
variable dimensions
installation view of damian ortega, the fruitmarket gallery, edinburgh, scotland, 2016

 

icebergs, 2016
set of 10. clay from oaxaca and zacatecas, mexico; pigments, acrylic
variable dimensions
installation view of damian ortega, the fruitmarket gallery, edinburgh, scotland, 2016

 

transición del mono al hombre, 2015

wooden hand model and steel knives

14.57 x 4.72 x 2.36 in.

physical graffiti 1, 2015

rebar

26.18 x 95.87 in.

pluricelular 6, 2015
pigmented concrete with oxide (5 pieces)
12.6 x 12.6 x 12.6 in.

pluricelular 4, 2015
pigmented concrete (13 pieces)
19.69 x 15.75 x 15.75 in.

weaving, 2014

wool loomed using a foot treadle by román gutiérrez, teotitlán del valle, oaxaca

137.01 x 43.31 in.

problema, 2014
concrete
60.24 x 40.16 x 28.35 in. 

esquema del mundo: estratigrafías, 2014
polyurethane foam, bamboo, tissue paper, newspaper, kraft paper, cardboard, sisal, styrofoam and adhesive
39.37 x 43.31 x 39.76 in., 21.65 x 41.34 x 29.53 in.

 

 

 

esquema del mundo: estratigrafías, 2014
polyurethane foam, bamboo, tissue paper, newspaper, kraft paper, cardboard, sisal, styrofoam and adhesive
39.37 x 43.31 x 39.76 in., 21.65 x 41.34 x 29.53 in.

geoda 3: cebolla, 2014

tissue paper and dyed newspaper and white acid free adhesive

13.39 x 13.39 in. each

proyecto para biblioteca editorial alias, 2014

installation: 1 bookcase, 2 tables, 12 chairs, 1 balsa wood sign, 5 posters, 3 modules, 1 chicharronero cart, cement tile floor over triplay (376 ft2 approx.), 12 lamps, 10 complete alias collections (21 books each), 10 complete antítesis collections (5 books each)

variable dimensions

proyecto para biblioteca editorial alias, 2014

installation: 1 bookcase, 2 tables, 12 chairs, 1 balsa wood sign, 5 posters, 3 modules, 1 chicharronero cart, cement tile floor over triplay (376 ft2 approx.), 12 lamps, 10 complete alias collections (21 books each), 10 complete antítesis collections (5 books each)

variable dimensions

proceso constructivo, 2013

set of 6. tbc microchip divided into 6 construtive layers. wool weaved by eduardo francisco rodríguez (san luis de la paz, guanajuato)

77.76 x 59.25 in. each

sistema circulatorio, 2013

cotton thread on linen, hand embroidery

85.04 x 54.72 in. fabric

instante i, 2012
cotton thread on black velvet, hand embroidery by damián ortega
40.55 x 30.71 in.

architecture without architects, 2010
mixed media
dimensions variable

campo de visión / champ de vision, 2008

spyhole and five thousand acrylic colored round plaques (red, yellow, blue, gray) hanging by steel wire

472.44 x 196.85 x 196.85 in.

campo de visión / champ de vision, 2008

spyhole and five thousand acrylic colored round plaques (red, yellow, blue, gray) hanging by steel wire

472.44 x 196.85 x 196.85 in.

campo de visión / champ de vision, 2008

spyhole and five thousand acrylic colored round plaques (red, yellow, blue, gray) hanging by steel wire

472.44 x 196.85 x 196.85 in.

controller of the universe, 2007
found tools and wire
112.2 x 159.45 x 179.13 in.
installation view of that was then...this is now, ps1 moma, new york, 2008

 

controller of the universe, 2007
found tools and wire
112.2 x 159.45 x 179.13 in.

installation view of that was then...this is now, ps1 moma, new york, 2008

 

transportable obelisk, 2004

cast fiberglass obelisk with metal base with wheels

236.22 x 23.62 x 23.62 in.

escarabajo, 2005

16 millimeters film projected in a movie projector

16 min

escarabajo, 2005

16 millimeters film projected in a movie projector

16 min

moby dick, 2004

documentation of performance at the museum of contemporary art, los angeles

moby dick, 2004

video transferred to dvd

9 min 42 sec

cosmic thing, 2002
stainless steel, wire, beatle 83', plexiglass
variable dimensions

cosmic thing, 2002
stainless steel, wire, beatle 83', plexiglass
variable dimensions
installation view of damián ortega: do it yourself, the institute of contemporary art, boston, 2010 

 

 

sisters; hermanas, 2019–2020

bricks, corn, squash, chiles, beans

variable dimensions

sisters; hermanas, 2019–2020

bricks, corn, squash, chiles, beans

variable dimensions

replicant stone, 2019

silicon bronze

120.87 x 60.63 x 63.39 in.

installation view of estridentópolis, adrian rosenfeld gallery, san francisco, 2019

donkey tower, 2019

cardboard, styrofoam, kraft paper, pine wood, balsa wood and cement bags "empire state", shreve, lamb and harmon, new york, usa

101.18 x 34.25 x 19.69 in.

gorilla building, 2019
cardboard, styrofoam, kraft paper, pine wood, balsa wood and cement bags "habitat 67" moshe safdie, montreal, canada
77.56 x 68.9 x 35.43 in.

working skin, 2019
kraft paper and cement sack cuttouts
two pieces 11.02 x 3.15 x 7.09 in.

huipil, 2019
kraft paper and cement sack cuttouts
19.69 x 27.56 in.

istmeñan pattern, 2019
kraft paper and cement sack cuttouts
20.08 x 24.8 in.

warp cloud, 2018
plaster balls covered in bee wax, cotton thread, stainless steel wire, 5oz. lead weights
114.17 x 216.54 x 708.66 in. installed
installation view at echigo tsumari art triennale, japan, 2018

 

warp cloud, 2018
plaster balls covered in bee wax, cotton thread, stainless steel wire and 5oz. lead weights
114.17 x 216.54 x 708.66 in. installed
installation view at echigo tsumari art triennale, japan, 2018

 

the modern garden, 2018

variable dimensions

installation view at the garage museum of contemporary art, moscow, 2018

modern garden 29, 2018
steel and concrete
47.24 x 90.55 x 47.24 in.
installation view of modern garden, garage museum of contemporary art, moscow, 2018

the modern garden, 2018

variable dimensions
installation viewat the garage museum of contemporary art, moscow, 2018

torch lamp, 2017
aluminum, copper, acrylic
installed: 4816.93 in.

coliseum: diagram of time, 2017
pigmented concrete
variable dimensions
installation view of play time, white cube bermondsey, london, 2017

 

 

coliseum: diagram of time, 2017
pigmented concrete

variable dimensions

installation view of play time, white cube bermondsey, london, 2017

monumento, 2016
cotton canvas, ethafoam, ironwork, cotton thread, henequen thread, wood, screws and washers, ink and crayon plotter transfer
511.81 x 59.06 x 131.89 in.
installation view of el cohete y el abismo, palacio de cristal, museo nacional centro de arte reina sofía, madrid, 2016

 

torre latinoamericana, 2016
nappa leather beef, silica sand, metal tube, gabardine, waxed thread, ink and crayon plotter transfer
130.71 x 27.56 x 27.56 in.
installation view of el cohete y el abismo, palacio de cristal, museo nacional centro de arte reina sofía, madrid, 2016

 

lava waves, 2016
set of 33. clay from oaxaca, mexico
variable dimensions
installation view of damian ortega, the fruitmarket gallery, edinburgh, scotland, 2016

 

icebergs, 2016
set of 10. clay from oaxaca and zacatecas, mexico; pigments, acrylic
variable dimensions
installation view of damian ortega, the fruitmarket gallery, edinburgh, scotland, 2016

 

transición del mono al hombre, 2015

wooden hand model and steel knives

14.57 x 4.72 x 2.36 in.

physical graffiti 1, 2015

rebar

26.18 x 95.87 in.

pluricelular 6, 2015
pigmented concrete with oxide (5 pieces)
12.6 x 12.6 x 12.6 in.

pluricelular 4, 2015
pigmented concrete (13 pieces)
19.69 x 15.75 x 15.75 in.

weaving, 2014

wool loomed using a foot treadle by román gutiérrez, teotitlán del valle, oaxaca

137.01 x 43.31 in.

problema, 2014
concrete
60.24 x 40.16 x 28.35 in. 

esquema del mundo: estratigrafías, 2014
polyurethane foam, bamboo, tissue paper, newspaper, kraft paper, cardboard, sisal, styrofoam and adhesive
39.37 x 43.31 x 39.76 in., 21.65 x 41.34 x 29.53 in.

 

 

 

esquema del mundo: estratigrafías, 2014
polyurethane foam, bamboo, tissue paper, newspaper, kraft paper, cardboard, sisal, styrofoam and adhesive
39.37 x 43.31 x 39.76 in., 21.65 x 41.34 x 29.53 in.

geoda 3: cebolla, 2014

tissue paper and dyed newspaper and white acid free adhesive

13.39 x 13.39 in. each

proyecto para biblioteca editorial alias, 2014

installation: 1 bookcase, 2 tables, 12 chairs, 1 balsa wood sign, 5 posters, 3 modules, 1 chicharronero cart, cement tile floor over triplay (376 ft2 approx.), 12 lamps, 10 complete alias collections (21 books each), 10 complete antítesis collections (5 books each)

variable dimensions

proyecto para biblioteca editorial alias, 2014

installation: 1 bookcase, 2 tables, 12 chairs, 1 balsa wood sign, 5 posters, 3 modules, 1 chicharronero cart, cement tile floor over triplay (376 ft2 approx.), 12 lamps, 10 complete alias collections (21 books each), 10 complete antítesis collections (5 books each)

variable dimensions

proceso constructivo, 2013

set of 6. tbc microchip divided into 6 construtive layers. wool weaved by eduardo francisco rodríguez (san luis de la paz, guanajuato)

77.76 x 59.25 in. each

sistema circulatorio, 2013

cotton thread on linen, hand embroidery

85.04 x 54.72 in. fabric

instante i, 2012
cotton thread on black velvet, hand embroidery by damián ortega
40.55 x 30.71 in.

architecture without architects, 2010
mixed media
dimensions variable

campo de visión / champ de vision, 2008

spyhole and five thousand acrylic colored round plaques (red, yellow, blue, gray) hanging by steel wire

472.44 x 196.85 x 196.85 in.

campo de visión / champ de vision, 2008

spyhole and five thousand acrylic colored round plaques (red, yellow, blue, gray) hanging by steel wire

472.44 x 196.85 x 196.85 in.

campo de visión / champ de vision, 2008

spyhole and five thousand acrylic colored round plaques (red, yellow, blue, gray) hanging by steel wire

472.44 x 196.85 x 196.85 in.

controller of the universe, 2007
found tools and wire
112.2 x 159.45 x 179.13 in.
installation view of that was then...this is now, ps1 moma, new york, 2008

 

controller of the universe, 2007
found tools and wire
112.2 x 159.45 x 179.13 in.

installation view of that was then...this is now, ps1 moma, new york, 2008

 

transportable obelisk, 2004

cast fiberglass obelisk with metal base with wheels

236.22 x 23.62 x 23.62 in.

escarabajo, 2005

16 millimeters film projected in a movie projector

16 min

escarabajo, 2005

16 millimeters film projected in a movie projector

16 min

moby dick, 2004

documentation of performance at the museum of contemporary art, los angeles

moby dick, 2004

video transferred to dvd

9 min 42 sec

cosmic thing, 2002
stainless steel, wire, beatle 83', plexiglass
variable dimensions

cosmic thing, 2002
stainless steel, wire, beatle 83', plexiglass
variable dimensions
installation view of damián ortega: do it yourself, the institute of contemporary art, boston, 2010 

 

 

recent notable solo exhibitions include:

recent notable solo exhibitions include:

Porous Structures, Gladstone Gallery, Nueva York; (2019); The Modern Garden, Garage Museum, Moscow, Russia (2018); Play Time, White Cube Bermondsey, London (2017); El cohete y el abismo, Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, Madrid (2016); Damián Ortega, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (2016); Casino, Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2016), Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy (2015); O fim da matéria, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2015); Ape Culture, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin (2015); Cosmogonía doméstica, Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2014); Damián Ortega: Apestraction, The Freud Museum, London (2013); Tool Bit, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine (2011); Damián Ortega, Barbican Centre, London (2010); Do It Yourself. Damián Ortega, ICA- The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, United States (2009); Champ de vision, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2008); Man is the Controller of the Universe, Daadgalerie, Berlin  (2007); Obelisco transportable, commissioned by Public Art Fund for Central Park, New York (2007); Damián Ortega: The Beetle Trilogy and Other Works, REDCAT CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, Los Angeles (2007); The Uncertainty Principle, UNTITLED Project Series, Tate Modern, London (2005), Damián Ortega, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2004); Cosmic Thing, Institute of Contemporary Art / University of Pennsylvania, Philadelfia, United States (2002), among others.

selected group exhibitions and biennials

His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, such as: No habrá nunca una puerta. Estás adentro. Obras de la Coleção Teixeira de Freitas, Fundación Santander, Madrid (2019); Art and Space, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2018); Rastros y vestigios. Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City (2016), ICC-Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico (2015); Et In Libertalia Ego, Vol. II, MONA-Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (2016); The Way Things Go, Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, The Netherlands (2016); Le précieux pouvoir des pierres, Musée d'Art moderne et d'Art contemporain (MAMAC), Nice, France (2016); Tools Extending Our Reach, Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York (2014); América Latina 1960–2013, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2013); Mexico: Inside Out, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, United States (2013); Life: A User’s Manual, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2011); Every Day Matters, Faurschou Foundation Copenhague, Denmark (2013); Mexico: Expected / Unexpected - collection Isabel et Agustín Coppel, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, United States (2011) and La maison rouge, Paris, (2008), among others.

Ortega has also participated in several biennials including: Tsumari-Echigo Triennale, Japan (2018); 14e Biennale de Lyon, France (2017); THE GARDEN – End of Times; Beginning of Times, ARoS triennial, Aarhus, Denmark (2017); APAP 6 Anyang Public Art Project, South Korea (2016); Sharjah Biennial 12, United Arab Emirates (2015); 55th and 50th Venice Biennial (2013 and 2003); 11 Bienal de la Habana, Cuba (2012); 4 Berlin Biennale (2006); 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); 27a Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2006) and 4th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2002).

Video