Jorge Díaz, Public Ground, 2015.
BETWEEN THE BRIDGES THAT CONNECT THE URBAN SPACES
Jorge Díaz is a Puerto Rican based artist known for creating distinctive installations of urban objects and sceneries inside closed-controlled spaces. For his participation in Art In Golf Triennial 2015, Díaz created Public Grounds were the concept of time in the urban spaces was questioned by using eroded gravel found in the corners of the streets to create drawings on the sand trap.
An interview with Jorge Díaz
arte_FITS: AT WHICH POINT OF YOUR CAREER AS AN ARTIST DID YOU BEGIN TO WORK WITH THE URBAN THEME AND WHAT EVENTS ULTIMATELY LED YOU TO THIS?
Jorge Díaz: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources, but it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I began to study in the Fine Arts School of Puerto Rico. It was natural that my attention was driven towards the public spaces because it’s where I spent most of my childhood.
I grew up in a neighborhood called Villa Fontana in Carolina, Puerto Rico. This place is very special to me because the way it’s designed allows one to walk throughout all its recreational areas, which are connected through alleyways located at the front part of the houses. This meant that we didn’t have to go to the streets to play and I believe that it made everyone in the neighborhood feel as if we had some sort of independence because our parents wouldn’t worry so much.
AF: WHAT ARTISTS HAVE BEEN AN INFLUENCE FOR YOU ?
JD: There are always a lot of artists that influence in the artworks, but the one whom I feel a strong connection with in the form of observing the spaces is Gordon Matta Clark. The interesting part is that in terms of epoch, one responds differently depending on the location and time in which a place is inhabited.
The places where Gordon created his artworks are all very different and there’s a probability that if he were alive today, he wouldn’t produce the installations in the same places because maybe they are not as interesting and amazing as before.
AF: ALL OF THE ELEMENTS THAT MAKE UP YOUR INSTALLATIONS ARE FOUND ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE OBECT(S) PRESENTED IN THE ARTWORKS?
JD: It all depends. For now I’ve been working in series really.
I worked on these sculptures that imitated images of the city by projecting feelings of fear, resignation, and survival. The majority of these images were common objects that may be found behind bars and outside of buildings.
Afterwards, I worked with the security fences in the streets focusing mainly on the marks that are left in them after traffic accidents. The intention here was to make a sculpture of an anonymous experience in the city by creating a direct mold of the object. Recently I began to work with the erosion of the streets looking perhaps for a vaster experience and the concept of time in the urban spaces.
AF: HOW WAS THE PROJECT, Public Grounds, DEVELOPED?
JD: The original project was going to be the recreation of a burned automobile, just like the ones we observe in different corners of the island. But due to technical reasons, I had to rethink the proposal. This is one of the reasons why the experience felt more of a process project rather than the construction of an object.
At the time I was working on various bi-dimensional pieces that contained abstract drawings. These pieces were created using the sediment and erosion of the city. So, when the need to change the proposal came up, it occurred to me that I could take these small pieces and place them in a large-scale installation.
AF: RATHER THAN BEING LOCATED IN A CLOSED-CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT, Public Grounds, WAS CREATED IN THE OPEN SPACES OF THE GOLF COURSE. DO YOU FEEL THIS WAS AN IMPACT TO THE ARTISTIC PROCESS?
JD: I really enjoyed the experience because I was able to work in a scale that I had never worked on before. Nonetheless, I feel that the space used for the installation is still a controlled one because the golf course is recognized as a private space that is taken care with a lot of dedication.
AF: WHAT MATERIALS WERE USED TO CREATE Public Grounds?
JD: The material used for the piece was the erosion of the public spaces. This material is found in the curb of the streets as they wear away through time.
AF: SEARCHING FOR THE GRAVEL WAS AN IMPORTANT PROCESS IN THE MAKING OF Public Grounds. HOW WOULD THE DETAIL OF THIS SEARCH ADD TO THE PROCESS OF THE INSTALLATION?
JD: This detail adds to the process in the sense that one has to take their time looking for the material by identifying and collecting something that has gone through a process of time itself in order to get to that sand-like state. Speaking in conceptual terms, one picks up the accumulated process of time passing, were the streets go through a transformation process and erode.
AF: HOW DOES THE LOCATION OF THE SAND TRAP AFFECT THE INSTALLATION?
JD: It’s very interesting to place these types of interventions in the sand trap because of the antagonistic concepts of where the material comes from versus the care golf courses are given. While the gravel comes from the dirtiest corners of the streets, the sand trap is cleaned and taken care of so it looks perfect all the time.
AF: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE CORRELATION OF Public Grounds WITH THE GAME OF GOLF AND THE GOLF COURSE?
JD: In the original proposal, my intention was to question the difference between the public spaces versus the private ones. It was by inserting a common scene of the public space in the golf course that I would be able to provoke a reflection on exterior spaces overall. With Public Grounds, I think I maintained the concept of bringing the public space into the private one, while introducing the experiences of many and life itself.