The bold actions of Victor “Crack” Rodriguez

Posted on August - 16 - 2017

Crack Rodríguez “Free Down”

Have you ever entered an art exhibition and beheld something strange happening? Maybe a person in the middle of the room performing an action that seemed odd, strange, inviting or simply gut-wrenching? Or even had the opportunity to witness and action of some sort carried out in a public space that left everyone baffled and confused? Well, if your answer is yes, you probably saw a piece of Performance art.

Performance art is an artistic practice that still attracts a line of critics and public attention. It’s quite noteworthy that these unorthodox methods are still regarded with certain reservation, yet they have been around and fastening themselves since the late 50’s. Having its genesis with the Dada and the Futurist gang, Performance art as we know it started being concocted as a reaction to the dynamic yet limited nature of Abstract Expressionist. New and young artists were interested in blurring the line between artwork, artists, time and space. Many of these pioneers include Yves Klein with his anthropometries in the late 50’s, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Beuys, Chris Burden, Yoko Ono, Marina Abramovic and much more.

As a symptom of its context, art started its dematerialization process in the 60’s, breaking away from traditional media in the hopes of abandoning conventions and highlighting the exhaustion of the institution that was the art world of the time. Back then it was clear that more than an aesthetic construction, performances and happenings aimed to reflect a social and political problematic and thus became well-thought “actions.” Some of these practices borrowed from other physical disciplines like rituals, dance, sports, or daily work.

Crack Rodríguez “At the end of the rainbow”

In Latin America, especially in Central America, performance art was taken quite eagerly in the late 90’s and has by some become one of their primary media. Artists such as Anibal López and Regina José Galindo have transcended previously built limits and created memorable works, which still to this day can taunt audiences by their compelling content and relentless execution.

In the neighboring country of El Salvador, the young artist Victor “Crack” Rodríguez has become somewhat of a beacon for political and social complaint. Having received his formal education in Educated in Contemporary Art Center Edilson Viriato, Curitiba, Brazil in 2004, Rodríguez went on to become a self-proclaimed street action artist, where he exposes himself as well as creates urban happenings and performances. Rodríguez questions the established and collectively accepted concepts of power, identity, memory, consumption, entertainment, violence, safety, and education that have been imposed and accepted through a painful history of violence and inequality.

Although grim and pessimistic at times, Rodríguez takes on the public space as a platform for his actions and interaction. From early as 2007 he went to the streets with his action Transfiguration, where he walked with found “carretas” in an attempt to confront the merchandise space and commercial exchange. His later work that gained him much notoriety was VW Neutropolittan Attack (2012) where he flipped over a vehicle in one of the busiest intersections within the historical center of San Salvador leaving there to stir the curiosity of passers-by.

Crack Rodríguez “VW Neutropolittan Attack”

But it was in 2014 where Rodríguez attained the world’s attention. In the wake of the second round of the presidential elections, in a defiant and discontented manner, the artist walked into a voting station and proceeded to eat half of his ballot while holding onto a copy of “Landings: New Art and Ideas from the Caribbean and Central America 2000–2010”. Rodriguez caused a commotion amongst the officials present and was charged with electoral fraud, an offense that could have earned him six years in jail. His vigorous and bold statement was conducted with the hopes of highlighting his personal and professional disgust towards the corruptions that drives the government into electoral fraud, as well as tense the relationship between hunger and power. This action has gained him international recognition as well as consolidated his place as one of El Salvador’s brashest critical voices.

His work is worth following, and as of currently he has been recently nominated for the MISOL GRANT for Emerging Artists for the MISOL Foundation in Bogota, Colombia. In Scoop Art we invite you to take a deeper look at this artists production and trajectory.

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz