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Wilfredo Prieto, model for Asended Line, 2008

Wilfredo Prieto’s practice has been described in the past as ‘an artistic routine’ (1), a phrase which draws together both the farcical nature of some of his performances and gestures with their more latent political and social commentary.

One such routine titled Mucho Ruido y Pocas Nueces I -Much ado about nothing-, (2003) involved parking a large water truck and power generator outside Galeria Habana, in Havana. On arriving to the gallery this scene places you in the midst of an emergency - however on further inspection, it transpires to be an over zealous watering and lighting of a pot plant in the backroom gallery. In Sin título, (2006) Prieto again utilises the might and gusto of machinery. In this case a crane, whose cables are fixed to its own engine and support, attempts to lift itself. Such site specific installations add hyperbole to the everyday by debunking, subverting or rendering impotent cranes, waters trucks, bicycles and libraries.

Beyond the jovial realisation of his initial quip, there is an element of pathos in the work as the viewer reflects upon their involvement in these farcical scenes and with these inane objects. In Grasa, Jabón y plátano -Grease, soap and banana - (2006) the visitor is presented with a collage of comedic devices; all agents of that unexpected slip, fall or tumble into embarrassment. The object, with its resemblance to cartoons, when installed into one of Havana’s oldest convents, Convento Santa Clara, Havana, is dwarfed by the imposing scale of its architecture and history, leaving the joke itself to fall flat on its face.

Wilfredo Prieto’s residency at Gasworks was granted as part of The Cartier Award, a major initiative by Frieze Projects in collaboration with Gasworks and sponsored by Cartier. The selection panel consisted of Neville Wakefield (Curator, Frieze Projects) Grazia Quaroni, (Curator, Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art), Mia Jankowicz (Residency Curator, Gasworks), and Richard Wentworth (Artist).

Prieto used the residency to develop a new site specific installation to be presented as part of Frieze Art Fair, 2008. This was the second year Gasworks partnered on the project. As part of his residency at Gasworks, Wilfredo Prieto developed a new site specific installation intended for Frieze Art Fair 2008. In Ascended Line (2008) visitors to Frieze encountered a red carpet which drew a path through the galleries' booths. If followed, the carpets trail led outside the fair and up to the top of a tall flag pole.

1. Andrews, Max; Frieze Issue 110 October 2007

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