Damian Ortega

A former political cartoonist, Damián Ortega creates works in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, installation, and video, that are brimming with critical wit and a talismanic use of materials. Using recycled materials, often expanded into diagrammatic mobiles hung from the ceiling, Ortega examines the social interaction with materials and consumer objects, with an emphasis on equality and economic justice. Ortega’s best known work, his 2002 sculpture Cosmic Thing, features a Volkswagen Beetle disassembled and strung up piece-by-piece in the manner of a repair guide, showing how the car was constructed. The work comments on the Volkswagen’s desire to be a product by and for “the people” (“volk” in German), but its manufacture was outsourced to Mexico and built by laborers required to understand its operation, but who may not be paid enough to own one themselves.


Ortega's work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, the Barbican Art Centre in London, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among many others. 

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