Shotgun review: Andrés Jaque/Office of Political Innovation at REDCAT

Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation,
Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation,
"Different Kinds of Water Pouring Into a Swimming Pool” (2013)

In the first solo project by Andrés Jaque/Office of Political Innovation at Los Angeles' REDCAT, Jaque prepares, Different Kinds of Water Pouring Into a Swimming Pool, an exhibition featuring performative experiments that at first glance, look like abandoned science projects. As you ascend deeper into the exhibition space, the subtle details of these things -- many of which play with water contained in ready made material, such as kiddie pools, water jugs, and small toy airplanes -- reveal his fascination with backyards and domestic spaces. The end result is a collection that's curious of a time during old Hollywood, when swimming pools, along with Blue Hawaiian cocktails, were the center of social life and a symbol of wealth. At their core, they are symbols of suburbia when things were simply glorified and individualized. 

It is not a coincidence that the exhibition takes its name from Hockney's mid-1960s drawings of LA swimming pools, specifically, Different Kinds of Waters Pouring into a Swimming Pool, Santa Monica. After all, Hockney most famously illustrated these backyard scenes for us, creating a series illustrating images of wealthy Angelenos during the 1960s, leisurely swimming in the backyards of their mid-century modernist homes nestled in the hills of West Los Angeles. Sometimes a solitary figure lay emerged in the water, under the 360 days of LA sunshine. Other times, two figures appear in his paintings, usually one gazing down at a man or woman underwater, submerged in their own atmosphere, engulfed in a private moment.

David Hockney, Water Pouring into Swimming Pool, Santa Monica 1964
David Hockney, Water Pouring into Swimming Pool, Santa Monica 1964

But let us go back to Jaque's interpretation of Angelenos and their backyard oasis'. The sculptures are often displayed in self-contained, mere-representations of community. These communities are solitary, for only those invited -- equipped with personal gardens and the of course, individualistic personal swimming pools-- borrowed from renderings of early 20th century Garden City planning.

On its surface, the exhibition seems to lack a direct political theme, and in fact, may even seem to be the enemy of the overtly political. Yet taking a closer look, Jaque's only takes a nod from the superficial past to research the present. His text and installations address the meeting spaces and backyard communities relevant in today's LA. They bring us across LA's sprawl, into a garden developed by a Uruguayan immigrant, located on a dead end street west of highway 101 in the gentrifying Silver Lake, and finally, to water systems of an anecdotal wealthy couple in what could be Malibu. His elaborate experiments point to these diverse dynamics, offering more of a social critique to our sprawling environment.

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Andrés Jaque, "Different Kinds of Water Pouring Into a Swimming Pool (Geoffrey & David Hockney)," 2013. Architectural drawing. Courtesy of the artist.

Jaque shapes an intimate and social investigation into how people live in a city of distance, a collection of stories to add to the dialogue of city urbanism. The object of performance is symbolically represented by water. This wonderful metaphor threads together different socio-economical value that we hold towards this resource, in backyards across the city. 

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