Chicago | Los Angeles | Miami | New York | San Francisco | Santa Fe
Amsterdam | Berlin | Brussels | London | Paris | São Paulo | Toronto | China | India | Worldwide
 
Santa Fe
Image001 Laxart_install_front Extracted_other_side__2_ Ochoa2 Woulditmakeasound02 Woulditmakeasound03 Ochoa_133_amalgamatedinfraction01_lores Installationview04 Ideal_disjuncture1
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Ochoa_134_leanback01_lores
Zoned Out in the 90045, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, Zoned Out in the 90045,
2007, C-print, wenge frame, Photo by Robert Wedemeyer
© Courtesy of the Artist & Susanne Vielmetter Projects, LA
Extracted, 2006, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, Extracted, 2006,
site specific installation at LAXART, Concrete, metal, plywood, burlap, chicken wire and decomposed granite; 12' x 20' x 30', Approx. 2.5 Tons , Photo by Leslie Moon
© Courtesy of the Artist
Extracted, 2006, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, Extracted, 2006,
Site-specific installation at LA><ART, Concrete, metal, plywood, burlap, chicken wire and decomposed granite; 12' x 20' x 30', Approx. 2.5 Tons, Photo by Leslie Moon
© Courtesy of the Artist
What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa,
What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?,
2007, Lenticular print , Photo by Lutz Bertram
© Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Projects, LA
What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa,
What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?,
2007, Lenticular print , Photo by Lutz Bertram
© Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Projects, LA
What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa,
What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?,
2007, Lenticular print, Photo by Lutz Bertram
© Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Projects, LA
from A Recurring Amalgamation, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, from A Recurring Amalgamation,
2007, site specific installation at Susanne Vielmetter LA, Photo by Robert Wedemeyer
© Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Projects, LA
from A Recurring Amalgamation, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, from A Recurring Amalgamation,
2007, site specific installation at Susanne Vielmetter LA, Photo by Robert Wedemeyer
© Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Projects, LA
An Ideal Disjuncture , Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, An Ideal Disjuncture ,
Installation views from Whitney Biennial 2008, Concrete, wooden palettes, chain link, rebar, tie wire, dirt; Approx. 14’ x 13’ x 7’, Photo by Bill Orcutt
© Courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
An Ideal Disjuncture, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, An Ideal Disjuncture,
Installation views from Whitney Biennial 2008, Concrete, wooden palettes, chain link, rebar, tie wire, dirt; Approx. 14’ x 13’ x 7’ , Photo by Bill Orcutt
© Courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
Lean Back Installation , Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, Lean Back Installation ,
2007, Wood
© Ruben Ochoa
If I had a rebar for every time someone tried to mold me, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa,
If I had a rebar for every time someone tried to mold me,
2007, Rebar, annealed wire ties, dobbie blocks , 9’4” x 16’6” x 18’6”
© Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles
three the hard way, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, three the hard way,
2009, galvanized fence poles, concrete foot postings, steel plate, nuts , bolts, 84 x 144 x 180 inches 213.4 x 365.8 x 457.2 cm
© Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York
three the hard way, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, three the hard way,
2009, galvanized fence poles, concrete foot postings, steel plate, nuts and bolts, 84 x 144 x 180 inches 213.4 x 365.8 x 457.2 cm
© Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York
three the hard way, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, three the hard way,
2009, galvanized fence poles, concrete foot postings, steel plate, nuts and bolts, 84 x 144 x 180 inches 213.4 x 365.8 x 457.2 cm
© Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York
At First Blush (detail), Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, At First Blush (detail),
2010, pallets and rebar
© Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer
, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa
© Courtesy of the Artist and SUSANNE VIELMETTER LOS ANGELES PROJECTS
, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa
© Courtesy of the artist and Locust Projects
, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa
© Courtesy of the Artist and SUSANNE VIELMETTER LOS ANGELES PROJECTS
Darkening Sky, Ruben OchoaRuben Ochoa, Darkening Sky,
2014, acrylic house paint and dirt on canvas, 48 x 144 x 3 inches
© Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
Ruben Ochoa's works can be viewed at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, SWAP: LACMA On-Site in collaboration with Mark Bradford at Charles White Elementary School, and Phantom Sightings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has had solo exhibitions at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Susanne Vielmetter Berlin Projects, LAX> In March 2008, Ochoa was selected as a recipient of the John Simo...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Ruben Ochoa

Born and raised in Southern California, Ruben Ochoa's work stems from his involvement with and investigation of the landscape in which he has been immersed.  This is the urban landscape; the landscape of concrete and rebar and cement and dirt.  From photography to object, installation to conceptualism, Ochoa's vision is at once unpretentious and grand, dramatic and banal.

ArtSlant's writer, Nico Machida, spent time communicating with Ochoa regarding his process, current projects and developments.  Ochoa's work was recently included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and in Phantom Sightings, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Ruben Ochoa, "An Ideal Disjuncture," 2008, concrete, wooden palettes, chain link, rebar, tie wire, dirt, Approx. 14' x 13' x 7', Installation views from Whitney Biennial 2008, Whitney Museum of American Art, Photo by Bill Orcutt; Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects




Ruben Ochoa, "The hardest part was removing the walls/ If I had a rebar for every time someone tried to mold me...," 2007, rebar, annealed wire ties, dobbie blocks, 9'4" x 16'6" x 18'6", detail, Photo by Robert Wedemeyer; Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects


Nico Machida:  Your work seems specifically invested in Los Angeles-- its social ecology, urbanism, and landscape. What are some of your thoughts on this city as a topic and as a site of art-making? Is there such a thing as a mode of art-making unique to L.A.?

Ruben Ochoa:  Growing up in Oceanside about an hour and half south of Los Angeles I would say my work deals more with the Southern California landscape than LA as its focus. But overall I think LA is an amazing city to live and produce work in. With the various industries and resources so close by and access to these industries within driving distance, it does allow for more options in how one chooses to maneuver in the art making process.

Having just come back from a residency this past fall, I am currently in between studios. While that can be challenging in terms of art making, I have been able to move and drive around to different sites as needed, utilizing the freedom that comes with mobility to somehow make work until I find a new studio space. I try to be resourceful and just work where I can whether it's in my garage, a family member's backyard, or my apartment. I guess if I lived in another city this whole process might still work as successfully, but I can't say for sure since this is the social or urban landscape I'm familiar with.

Ruben Ochoa, "An Ideal Disjuncture," 2008; Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects


NM:  Across a broad spectrum of creative disciplines-- film, architecture, photography, painting-- there is a tradition of engaging with L.A. thematically. In an overwhelming majority of these cases the focus is on the city's imaginary, its mythic qualities and its inborn associations with fantasy and Manifest Destiny. Your work, on the other hand, seems more focused on the material fact of this city, as represented by its freeways and sidewalks. How would you define your investment in these oft-forsaken, seemingly mundane aspects of the L.A. landscape? 

RO:  I make an effort to gather my materials from various sources such as hardware stores, construction sites and when possible family businesses. In my recent sculpture at the Whitney Biennial, I chose to source my pallets from a distant cousin's pallet yard. I also acquired the pallets for my sculptural objects in my exhibit at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Project from my uncle's pallet yard. Once collected I then mend them together with other objects to alter and re-contextualize its meaning to articulate my interest.

Using raw material can be quite compelling for its exoticness when placed in a formal setting. However, there is the possible risk that it can easily and unintentionally translate to nothing further than the material itself. I am very selective and thoughtful of the resources I choose from and how it is placed regardless of whether it's the type of cement I use or down to the tiniest screws.

Another thing I have noticed is that cities seem to be getting grayer over the years perhaps as a result of modernization. Maybe it's an attempt to neutralize its inhabitants or triumph our nation as an empire, kind of like the Roman Empire. They built their empire with a material coined as Roman Concrete. Our freeways are not as ornate as The Pantheon but with the constant mark making there seems to be an ongoing and unwanted dialogue occurring with Cal Trans crews and writing crews on the freeways of Southern California. And considering how sidewalks are utilized for commerce mainly by the merchant class, they become areas of transaction for informal economies. Recognizing that these areas are also left abandoned or untailored by "the City" I cannot help but make the correlation with how that falls on the edge of diminished humanity. It's no wonder LA plays such an ideal backdrop for post apocalyptic scenarios.

NM:  In much of your recent work-- such as "The hardest part..." (2007) and the "Freeway Wall Extraction" project (2006/7) -- there is a very clear architectural element, by which I mean a physical demarcation of three-dimensional space. Do you see your work as a type of architecture? Are you consciously investigating here the boundaries between architecture and art?

RO:  The more I create objects and installations, I find myself drawn more and more to architecture. Definitely in its physical properties but more to do with the militarization of space by the surrounding environment and how we as viewers are defined by these experiences. My interest lies in the physicality of space as defined by it boundaries or other instruments of demarcation. Instead of gesturing at a physical disruption I actual create spatial disruptions inside and outside the gallery space by melding my work unto these architectural structures­- physically confronting and implicating the viewer. Examining the freeway retaining walls in Fwy Wall Extraction, the work begins to reference the Berlin Wall, the US border, the Peace line in Ireland, the West Bank Barrier and I look at this as a transnational experience not isolated to one specific region.

Ruben Ochoa, "What if walls vanished from the freeway, would it make a sound?", 2007, Lenticular print mounted on Diebond, Edition of 3 + 2 AP, 48" x 96" (4 panels, each 48" x 24"), photo by Lutz Bertram; Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects


NM:  Following from my last question: Because you place massive structures in existing gallery space, one might be tempted to align your work with a whole history of postwar "architectural artists" (among them Rachel Whiteread, Richard Serra, and Doris Salcedo). Do you see yourself as part of this conceptual lineage? Is there a certain mode of art-making or group of artists that has especially influenced your work?

RO:  I'm not sure if I'm even there yet, but thank you, it's nice to hear that I might even be remotely associated with this conceptual lineage. Most of my work is drawn from what I know and what inspires me, there is definitely that art history context which I reference or borrow from. From a contemporary art standpoint, I admire the work of Mark Bradford and Daniel J. Martinez among others. I recently encountered the works of Doris Salcedo and was blown away by her work. I have also been drawn to work by Valdes the Jeffery Inaba and Peter Zellner architect group.

NM:  Shifting now to the present, how central to your work is an active dialogue with your contemporaries? Working in Los Angeles today, I would assume you feel part of a substantial, active community of artists. Has this indeed been your experience?

RO:  I don't go out much because I primarily stay home and just work. That's probably one of the most important things my family taught me - to have a strong work ethic. So I don't have a glamorous social life. But I don't work in a bubble either, it's just as important to me to maintain a dialogue within the art community as it is to sustain my studio practice. Thanks to great cell phone plans and the internet, I do speak with several close friends and artists some of whom are based in LA and San Diego. We discuss ideas, theories, projects, politics, the latest movies, comedians, jokes and whatever else might come up. Over the years, I've made it a point to surround myself with good people of varying backgrounds whom I find inspiring and have a lot of respect for. I imagine like other creative fields that the art world can be viewed as exclusive, so it helps ground me to have that network of support within and outside of the art world.

NM:  It seems fashionable today to speak of current art production as in the midst of a "post-theoretical" age, to dismiss theory as increasingly irrelevant to an art world dominated by efficiencies of market and taste. Does cultural theory, contemporary or historical, play a role in your work?  Do you feel that theory has a place in the education of artists today?

RO:  I come from a merchant class background of hard working entrepreneurs with an emphasis on formal and informal economies. I specifically chose schools for Undergrad; Otis College of Art and Design, and a Graduate program; the University of California, Irvine that had conceptual rigor and emphasis towards interdisciplinary art-making. It instilled a discipline to research and investigate ideas and theories that inform my practice to this day.

There are many models to follow in art education. Some more theory based than studio practice (which can possibly lead to a commercially successful career). Ultimately, the decision resides on the artist as to what path they choose to follow.

As for myself, my aim is to have longevity in a successful art career. I don't negate the commercial aspect of the art world. But my goal is to hopefully find that balance, gaining that commercial success to survive but not at the expense of compromising the integrity and criticality of my work.

Ruben Ochoa, LeanBack, 2007, cast concrete; Photo by Robert Wedemeyer; Courtesy of the Artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects


NM:  As your work begins to enter institutional collections, and so risks inclusion in thematically-curated exhibitions, the public sphere's understanding of it inevitably evolves. How seriously do you take the life of your work "post-production," its life as a subject of discourse and criticism? Does this discussion ever in turn inform your practice?  

RO:  Thematic shows are always challenging. I put forth my best work regardless of the curatorial artifact we get lumped into based on materiality, ideology, or ethnicity. I believe it can still engage with the viewer conceptually and viscerally that surpasses preconceived notions these exhibits may illicit. Sometimes I'm on it... and sometimes... well, they all can't be homeruns.

NM:  For years to come, one of the taglines on all press releases and CVs bearing your name will be "included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial." This is obviously a tagline to which many artists working today aspire. So, quite simply, how does it feel to be among the chosen ones?

RO:  It's an honor to be one in a group of many talented individuals. It definitely ups the ante for me to continually push myself to make compelling work. The Whitney is a defining and momentous show at this point in my art career and participating in such a large show has been a learning experience. However, post 2008 Whitney Biennial I'm still going to work just as hard as I did previously by continuing to do what I was doing, putting in as much thought, effort, and diligence into the work as before. Most likely as my schedule gets busier I can be more selective with the shows I choose to participate in.


ArtSlant would like to thank Ruben Ochoa for his assistance in making this interview possible.

-- Nico Machida

 

FORMER RACKROOMERS

Copyright © 2006-2013 by ArtSlant, Inc. All images and content remain the © of their rightful owners.