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Biography

iñaki_bonillas_like_sparrows_around_a_pool_of_water_2016

iñaki bonillas

1981, Mexico City

Despite all appearances, Iñaki Bonillas is not a photographer. Rather, his work investigates the materiality and semiotic depth of said medium in a somewhat topographic manner: starting, and never ending, in a periphery that stands ambiguously as both the material margins of photography as well as its self-reflective dimension—that is, its apparent core. As he exerts infinite variations on generic aspects, alternately related to structure and meaning (primary colors; family photographs; erasures; captioning; fiction; archival habits; etc.), Bonillas delivers a paradox with each of his works where background becomes foreground, face pigment, anecdote main theme, stain signature, and vice-versa.

Unlike many contemporary artists of recent generations, Bonillas started his career before, and instead of, undertaking an official fine arts education. Widely and internationally exhibited before he reached age 20, his work started off with highly analytical studies of ordinary photographic procedures such as printing (in his foundational piece, Trabajos fotográficos, 1998) or pressing the shutter (Diez cámaras documentadas acústicamente, from the same year). Trained in the subtleties of image processing while he worked as an assistant in a photographer’s studio, Bonillas saw his literalistic impulse transformed by the inheritance, in 2000, of his grandfather’s photo archive; a corpus he referred to thereupon as the “J. R. Plaza Archive”. Composed of nearly three thousand pictures grouped in thirty albums, along with eight hundred slides, two volumes of an encyclopedia on film, and a folder of composite documents, the J. R. Plaza Archive became the matrix of more than twenty works produced between the years 2003 and 2016. Although this collection is not the sole source, or territory, of Bonillas’s production from this period, it has allowed the artist to map out a constellation of problems and themes in which the cultural history of photography, as well as its structural behaviors, clearly emerge. Thus, the question of “secondariness” (that is, why certain objects or aspects of an image are subordinate to others) is explored in works such as J. R. Plaza: Reversos (2005), Ciudad y paisaje (2005), Tineidae (2010), Las ideas del espejo (2009), or A Storm of Secondary Things (2012). Other pieces interrogate the frail architectonic of personal identity (the image as “countermemory”) as it is constituted through the archive (Una tarjeta para J.R. Plaza, 2007; A sombra e o brilho, 2007; Fisiología del matrimonio, 2007-2012). Others, still, scrutinize the editing idiosyncrasies of the archive’s original constitutor (Martín Lunas, 2004-2012; Fotografías delineadas, 2006). The artist’s taste for cataloguing and indexing appears in the first and last of these works (Pequeña historia de la fotografía, 2003; Words and Photos, 2014). But the interest in alienating the medium’s most generic features didn’t only bring Bonillas to embrace his own family archive as one of generic familiarities waiting to be alienated. In recent series, such as The Encyclopedia of the Dead (2012) or The Idea of North (2014), the artist builds intricate paths of literary and artistic reference where one image leads to another and then to many. A fragment of an image constitutes an index, and a minor, accidental gesture signifies a milestone in the history of another art—perhaps literature or music or architecture—at the heart of the photographic material.

Iñaki Bonillas lives and works in Mexico City.

Manuel Cirauqui © Oxford University Press

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails

trabajos fotográficos, 1998/2008
set of 4 albums with manual color photographic prints on resin paper; wood table

table: 29.5 x 68.8 x 39.3 in, album: 14.1 x 14.1 x 2.5 in.

 

pequeña historia de la fotografía ii, 2003

630 slides, 30 light boxes

11 x 33.5 x 4.7 in. each box

pequeña historia de la fotografía ii, 2003
630 slides, 30 light boxes
11 x 33.5 x 4.7 in. each

 

 

filatelia, 2011

20 digital prints on photographic paper; wooden shelves

1 x 9.4 x 3.7 in. each

 

filatelia, 2011

20 digital prints on photographic paper; wooden shelves

1 x 9.4 x 3.7 in. each

 

crucigrama # 15, 2015

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper; c-print on resin coated paper

15.4 x 14.2 in.

 

crucigrama # 7, 2015

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper; c-print on resin coated paper

15.4 x 14.2 in.

 

the encyclopedia of the dead: darwin, 2012

set of 71 laminated ink-jet prints mounted on wood

5.9 x 5.9 x .8 in. each

 

the encyclopedia of the dead: darwin, 2012

set of 71 laminated ink-jet prints mounted on wood

5.9 x 5.9 x .8 in. each

 

a storm of secondary things # 5, 2012

photogravure on hahnemühle paper

11 x 8.7 in.

 

storm of secondary things # 11, 2012

photogravure on hahnemühle paper
13.8 x 11.8 in.

 

 

(détail): blue, 2013

digital prints, book pages, wooden shelf

59 x 222.8 in.

 

(détail): red, 2013

digital prints, book pages, wooden shelf

59 x 131.1 in.

 

transparencias, 2014

set of 6 double-sided silk-screen prints on tissue paper

21.7 x 15 in. each

 

el cid, 2012

set of 10 oil paintings on maple wood, 1 hand-painted text on wall, 15 framed ink-jet prints

67 x 67 x 1.2 in.

 

the duel, 2011

9 ink-jet prints on baryta paper

17 x 31.5 in. each

george w. rollins, 2015

hand-colored silver gelatin photographs on fiber base paper; risograph prints with a silk-screen coat on paper

64.2 x 56.3 in.

george w. rollins, 2015

hand-colored silver gelatin photographs on fiber base paper; risograph prints with a silk-screen coat on paper

64.2 x 56.3 in.

a sombra e o brilho, 2007

set of 74 typewritten texts on paper; set of 24 kodalith images in light boxes
7.7 x 5.1 inches each paper; 12 x 16.5 x 1.2 in. each box

 

 

a sombra e o brilho, 2007

set of 74 typewritten texts on paper; set of 24 kodalith images in light boxes

7.7 x 5.1 in. each paper; 12 x 16.5 x 1.2 in. each box

long day’s journey into night, 2013

set of 12 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

79 x 173 in.

días de campo, 2011

set of 40 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

14.6 x 13.8 in. each

días de campo, 2011

set of 40 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

14.6 x 13.8 in. each

tineidae # 1, 2010

gelatin silver print on fiber base paper

10.4 x 8.5 in.

tineidae # 18, 2010

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper

11.7 x 11.5 in.

the rain came last, 2013

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper

20 x 24 in.

the rain came last, 2013

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper

24 x 20 in.

las ideas del espejo: visiones de tánger, 2014

ink-jet print on cotton paper
23.6 x 15.5 in.

 

 

las ideas del espejo # 4, 2014

set of 2 silver gelatin prints on rc paper

30 x 37.8 in. each

escritura nocturna # 8, 2016

photogravure print on cotton paper

22.8 x 16.7 in.

escritura nocturna # 13, 2016

photogravure print on cotton paper

16.7 x 22.8 in.

figuras del pensar: el libro vacío, 2013

Set of 19 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

8.3 x 5.1 in. each

figuras del pensar: el libro vacío, 2013

Set of 19 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

8.3 x 5.1 in. each

the encyclopedia of the dead: blas cubas library, 2012

mdf cabinet, reading lamp, 41 leather-bound books, 17 silk-screen printed postcards, 1 sound piece

84.6 x 47.2 x 47.2 in.

the encyclopedia of the dead: blas cubas library, 2012

mdf cabinet, reading lamp, 41 leather-bound books, 17 silk-screen printed postcards, 1 sound piece

84.6 x 47.2 x 47.2 in.

la idea del norte: fuga, 2014

set of 2 digital prints on cotton paper

68.9 x 94.1 in.

la idea del norte: fuga, 2014

set of 2 digital prints on cotton paper

68.9 x 94.1 in

collages: gedrim-steichen, 2011

ink-jet print on cotton paper

32 x 27.7 in.

collages: baudelaire-talbot, 2011

ink-jet print on cotton paper

27.2 x 37.8 in.

la vuelta al origen # 3, 2010

photographic plate in wooden light box; digital printing on cotton paper in wooden box
13.5 x 11.6 x 5.1 in. each box

la vuelta al origen # 9, 2010

screen with video without sound in wooden box; 35mm film in wooden light box

10.8 x 13.5 x 5.1 in. and 14.1x 15.9 x 5.1 in. each box respectively

secretos: huellas 1, 2016

set of 10 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

26 x 34.2 in. each

secretos: huellas 1, 2016

set of 10 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

26 x 34.2 in. each

secretos: linterna mágica, 2016

set of 20 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

 

11 x 16.5 in. each

 

secretos: linterna mágica, 2016

set of 20 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

11 x 16.5 in. each

secretos: inversiones, 2016

set of 3 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

23.6 x 15.7 in. each

secretos: jardín 1, 2016
set of 4 ink-jet prints on cotton paper
11.8 x 17.7 in. each

 

 

secretos: jardín 1, 2016

set of 4 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

11.8 x 17.7 in. each

like sparrows around a pool of water, 2016

20 ultraviolet prints on extra clear glass

17.72 x 17.72 in.each, 74.8 x 111.81 x 58.27 in. installed

 

like sparrows around a pool of water, 2016

20 ultraviolet prints on extra clear glass

17.72 x 17.72 in. each, 74.8 x 111.81 x 58.27 in. installed

detail

trabajos fotográficos, 1998/2008
set of 4 albums with manual color photographic prints on resin paper; wood table

table: 29.5 x 68.8 x 39.3 in, album: 14.1 x 14.1 x 2.5 in.

 

pequeña historia de la fotografía ii, 2003

630 slides, 30 light boxes

11 x 33.5 x 4.7 in. each box

pequeña historia de la fotografía ii, 2003
630 slides, 30 light boxes
11 x 33.5 x 4.7 in. each

 

 

filatelia, 2011

20 digital prints on photographic paper; wooden shelves

1 x 9.4 x 3.7 in. each

 

filatelia, 2011

20 digital prints on photographic paper; wooden shelves

1 x 9.4 x 3.7 in. each

 

crucigrama # 15, 2015

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper; c-print on resin coated paper

15.4 x 14.2 in.

 

crucigrama # 7, 2015

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper; c-print on resin coated paper

15.4 x 14.2 in.

 

the encyclopedia of the dead: darwin, 2012

set of 71 laminated ink-jet prints mounted on wood

5.9 x 5.9 x .8 in. each

 

the encyclopedia of the dead: darwin, 2012

set of 71 laminated ink-jet prints mounted on wood

5.9 x 5.9 x .8 in. each

 

a storm of secondary things # 5, 2012

photogravure on hahnemühle paper

11 x 8.7 in.

 

storm of secondary things # 11, 2012

photogravure on hahnemühle paper
13.8 x 11.8 in.

 

 

(détail): blue, 2013

digital prints, book pages, wooden shelf

59 x 222.8 in.

 

(détail): red, 2013

digital prints, book pages, wooden shelf

59 x 131.1 in.

 

transparencias, 2014

set of 6 double-sided silk-screen prints on tissue paper

21.7 x 15 in. each

 

el cid, 2012

set of 10 oil paintings on maple wood, 1 hand-painted text on wall, 15 framed ink-jet prints

67 x 67 x 1.2 in.

 

the duel, 2011

9 ink-jet prints on baryta paper

17 x 31.5 in. each

george w. rollins, 2015

hand-colored silver gelatin photographs on fiber base paper; risograph prints with a silk-screen coat on paper

64.2 x 56.3 in.

george w. rollins, 2015

hand-colored silver gelatin photographs on fiber base paper; risograph prints with a silk-screen coat on paper

64.2 x 56.3 in.

a sombra e o brilho, 2007

set of 74 typewritten texts on paper; set of 24 kodalith images in light boxes
7.7 x 5.1 inches each paper; 12 x 16.5 x 1.2 in. each box

 

 

a sombra e o brilho, 2007

set of 74 typewritten texts on paper; set of 24 kodalith images in light boxes

7.7 x 5.1 in. each paper; 12 x 16.5 x 1.2 in. each box

long day’s journey into night, 2013

set of 12 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

79 x 173 in.

días de campo, 2011

set of 40 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

14.6 x 13.8 in. each

días de campo, 2011

set of 40 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

14.6 x 13.8 in. each

tineidae # 1, 2010

gelatin silver print on fiber base paper

10.4 x 8.5 in.

tineidae # 18, 2010

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper

11.7 x 11.5 in.

the rain came last, 2013

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper

20 x 24 in.

the rain came last, 2013

silver gelatin print on fiber base paper

24 x 20 in.

las ideas del espejo: visiones de tánger, 2014

ink-jet print on cotton paper
23.6 x 15.5 in.

 

 

las ideas del espejo # 4, 2014

set of 2 silver gelatin prints on rc paper

30 x 37.8 in. each

escritura nocturna # 8, 2016

photogravure print on cotton paper

22.8 x 16.7 in.

escritura nocturna # 13, 2016

photogravure print on cotton paper

16.7 x 22.8 in.

figuras del pensar: el libro vacío, 2013

Set of 19 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

8.3 x 5.1 in. each

figuras del pensar: el libro vacío, 2013

Set of 19 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

8.3 x 5.1 in. each

the encyclopedia of the dead: blas cubas library, 2012

mdf cabinet, reading lamp, 41 leather-bound books, 17 silk-screen printed postcards, 1 sound piece

84.6 x 47.2 x 47.2 in.

the encyclopedia of the dead: blas cubas library, 2012

mdf cabinet, reading lamp, 41 leather-bound books, 17 silk-screen printed postcards, 1 sound piece

84.6 x 47.2 x 47.2 in.

la idea del norte: fuga, 2014

set of 2 digital prints on cotton paper

68.9 x 94.1 in.

la idea del norte: fuga, 2014

set of 2 digital prints on cotton paper

68.9 x 94.1 in

collages: gedrim-steichen, 2011

ink-jet print on cotton paper

32 x 27.7 in.

collages: baudelaire-talbot, 2011

ink-jet print on cotton paper

27.2 x 37.8 in.

la vuelta al origen # 3, 2010

photographic plate in wooden light box; digital printing on cotton paper in wooden box
13.5 x 11.6 x 5.1 in. each box

la vuelta al origen # 9, 2010

screen with video without sound in wooden box; 35mm film in wooden light box

10.8 x 13.5 x 5.1 in. and 14.1x 15.9 x 5.1 in. each box respectively

secretos: huellas 1, 2016

set of 10 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

26 x 34.2 in. each

secretos: huellas 1, 2016

set of 10 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

26 x 34.2 in. each

secretos: linterna mágica, 2016

set of 20 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

 

11 x 16.5 in. each

 

secretos: linterna mágica, 2016

set of 20 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

11 x 16.5 in. each

secretos: inversiones, 2016

set of 3 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

23.6 x 15.7 in. each

secretos: jardín 1, 2016
set of 4 ink-jet prints on cotton paper
11.8 x 17.7 in. each

 

 

secretos: jardín 1, 2016

set of 4 ink-jet prints on cotton paper

11.8 x 17.7 in. each

like sparrows around a pool of water, 2016

20 ultraviolet prints on extra clear glass

17.72 x 17.72 in.each, 74.8 x 111.81 x 58.27 in. installed

 

like sparrows around a pool of water, 2016

20 ultraviolet prints on extra clear glass

17.72 x 17.72 in. each, 74.8 x 111.81 x 58.27 in. installed

detail

exhibitions

exhibitions

Among Iñaki Bonillas’s most recent solo exhibitions are: Secrets, as part of Estancia Femsa, Casa Luis Barragán, Mexico City (2017) and Arxiu J. R. Plaza, La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona (2012). His work has also been included in exhibitions and institutions such as Strange Currencies: Art & Action in Mexico City, 1990-2000, The Galleries at Moore, Philadelphia (2015); Punctum, Salzburger Kunstverein (2014); The Imminence of Poetics, 30th São Paulo Biennial (2012); Beyond, KUMU Art Museum, Tallin (201 1); Poule!, Jumex Collection, Mexico City (2012); Resisting the Present, Amparo Museum, Puebla, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (201 1 & 2012); Little Theater of Gestures, Kunstmuseum Basel and Malmö Konsthall (2009); Intervention to the Pavilion, Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona (2005); Little History of Photography, MUHKA, Antwerp (2003); Utopia Station, 50th Venice Biennial (2003) and Locus Focus, Sonsbeek 9, Arnhem (2001)

Video