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18 August 2020 —
01 September 2020

Dagoberto Rodríguez:
Geometría Popular – Popular Geometry

Dagoberto Rodríguez, Geometría Popular, 2020 (still). One channel video, 4 mins 52 secs. Courtesy of the artist.


Geometría Popular – Popular Geometry presents the viewer with a succession of unambiguous entry points. At the start, we are thrown into the core of a conflict: a close up shot of a chaotic scene in which a loud and angry crowd appear to be fighting for space. A metaphor for diverging interests in society, the claustrophobic shot progressively decompresses as the camera zooms out to reveal a choreographed action taking shape.

From a square, via triangles, to a circle shape, the crowd is organised by means of negotiation. Two women officiate as the mediators of a peaceful agreement between the two groups that have emerged from the initial confusion, and now occupy the corners of a square, in triangle shapes. What follows is the two opposing sides joining to form an organised ring that slowly and silently begins moving in circles. Ironically, this order seems to bring a sense of meaningless progress; the never-ending circulation that leads nowhere might stand here as a visual metaphor for obedience.

However, circular shapes can also suggest psychic wholeness, which in Jungian psychology is articulated as the integration of the unconscious and conscious for ultimate self-realisation. Carl Gustav Jung’s idea of primary structural elements in visual representation was condensed in the concept of archetype. Between 1918 and 1919 the psychoanalyst engaged in the daily practice of drawing mandalas, using the principle of the circle as a primordial image that derives from the observation of the natural world and the organisation of life patterns in biology. In his book Man and his Symbols, Jung includes the circle among the three fundamental archetypal symbols of humanity, alongside the stone and the animal.

At the root of Jung’s complex idea of the archetype is his conclusion that the mandala – a circle with varied internal organisation, often populated with a confluence of triangles – represents a primary structural element of the human psyche. The circle is present in the Hindu concept of Samsara: the endless circle of birth and death and sacred time. Another remarkable manifestation appears in the figure of the ouroboros: born in ancient Egypt and later adopted in Hellenic culture, the symbol of alchemy shows a snake or dragon eating its own tail. Before the invention of the wheel, in Palaeolithic times, humans drew circles, and throughout the ages, circles have appeared in temple architecture and in the design of ancient cities.

Geometry abounds in the work of Dagoberto Rodríguez, both as an individual artist and in his previous collaborative practice as a member of Los Carpinteros. Geometría Popular brings Rodríguez’ trademark cloning of architecture and domestic objects into action, gaining, through the mediums of film and choreographed performance, a new expression of geometric shapes’ potential. In Geometría Popular, the foundations of his detailed watercolours and sculptures operate as cyphers of an enduring political dilemma.

Dagoberto Rodríguez Sanchez was born in 1969 in Caibarién, Las Villas and graduated from Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), La Habana, Cuba in 1994. In 1992 he co-founded the collective Los Carpinteros. Their works have been exhibited in museums and institutions around the world. Los Carpinteros separated in 2018, and Dagoberto Rodríguez currently works between La Habana and Madrid.

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