Lot 105
  • 105

Allora & Calzadilla

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Allora & Calzadilla
  • Solar Catastrophe
  • broken solar panel fragments on linen


Walter Otero Gallery, San Juan
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

In their work, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla embrace absurd juxtapositions in order to confront and contribute to the dialogue of often overwhelming political, social or environmental issues. Ever since 1995, their collaborative projects have covered an expansive and multidisciplinary corpus spanning performance, video installation, sculpture and two-dimensional flat-works. Representing the latter, Solar Catastrophe is a superb example of the creative duos’ inventive and thought-provoking work: an encompassing visual dialogue that foregrounds the ideological and symbolic values of their chosen media. In the present work a glorious graphic schema of black and white tessellating shapes is belied by the means of its spectacular construction: shards of smashed solar panels comprise harmonious patternation. Through maintaining the linear constancy of ridges and metal strips present within each shard of solar panel as a means to dictate graphic order, an Op-Art effect strongly evokes the 1960s production of Bridget Riley. Nonetheless as the title suggests, Allora and Calzadilla here broach the contentious subject of climate change. As is typical with their practice, the artists wield irony and troubling juxtapositions as a means of contributing to overwhelming global issues. Illustrative of the often monstrous dimension to Allora and Calzadilla’s work, the use of broken solar panels here metaphorically suggests ‘too little too late’: our collective effort to find unobtrusive ways of drawing energy from the earth is incongruous with the palpable rate of environmental change. 

Metaphor drawn from such incongruous visual dialogues represents the very crux of their practice. As described by Allora: "Metaphor, for us, is a primary resource in questioning the limits and boundaries of all so-called truths. By means of creative combination or substitution, metaphors can produce new insights and meanings. Because metaphor has the ability to transform, it can be a powerful tool when applied to the social arena where meaning is consensually fixed. It can become a tangible force in reshaping how the world appears to us, thus opening new possibilities for subjective, individual, and communal identifications. We see this function as both aesthetic—shaping form to create new sensibilities and perceptions—and political—making possible new meanings which can influence someone's choices in how they relate to a given subject" (Jennifer Allora in interview with Carlos Motta, 'Allora & Calzadilla', Bomb Magazine, Issue 109, Fall 2009). Visually spectacular and yet ideologically ominous, Solar Catastrophe embodies the central philosophy of Allora and Calzadilla's work: "Unexpected juxtaposition is something we love" (Guillermo Calzadilla quoted in: Linda Yablonsky, 'Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla', Interview Magazine online, 2011).

With works housed in the Tate Collection and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2011 the duo was prestigiously invited to represent the USA at the 54th Venice Biennale. This opportunity operated as "a great adhesive to put ideas together that were not fully developed" (Guillermo Calzadilla quoted in: Ibid.). The resultant exhibition courted unprecedented attention; in the words of Andrew M. Goldstein, their show at the US Pavilion generated "a near deafening amount of buzz" (Andrew M. Goldstein, 'Bound for Glory: Cavorting Athletes and Oblique Politics at the Debut of Allora and Calzadilla's U.S. Pavilion in Venice', Artinfo, 2 June 2011). Executed the very same year, Solar Catastrophe is archetypal of the dichotomous, thought-provoking, and often troubling juxtapositions that have propelled Allora and Calzadilla to critical acclaim.