Rodrigo Bruna Santiago, Chile
Rodrigo Bruna (1971) was born in Santiago, where he lives and works. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master’s degree in Visual Arts at Universidad de Chile. In 2001 Bruna was granted a German Academic Exchange Service scholarship to study a postgraduate course at the Staatliche Düsseldorf Kunstakademie. There, he studied with the Professors Daniel Buren and Gerhard Merz.
Bruna understands his work as a hybrid and fragmentary body nourished by destructive and reconstructive actions. These are paradoxical actions which determine the reflexive space from where he thinks and creates a work from drawings, photographies, videos and installations.
Rodrigo Bruna was chosen by artist Carolina Cruz Guimarey
Laatikkomo’s interview with Rodrigo Bruna August 4th, 2014
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
RB: I live in Santiago de Chile. In 2001 I had the opportunity to study at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with an scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service. The experience of living and studying in Düsseldorf was very important for my work as an artist, as it allowed me to broaden my reflexive horizon and my artistic practice. The opportunity to study with artists like Daniel Buren and Gerhard Merz allowed me to understand the artistic practice beyond a specific medium.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
RB: My photographic memories come from my adolescence with my first pinhole camera. The physical and chemical process behind photography generated a great fascination in me, and that was decisive in my interest in this medium. I remember the first pictures I took with this cardboard camera. These pictures captured everyday objects in an enigmatic black and white. Later, I received a compact camera called Color Kodadisk. With that camera I registered my first snapshots; the camera took 15 images and the photo shop gave you these images in a small plastic album. Undoubtedly, these early experiences marked my relationship with photography.
L: Although your work is documented carefully with photography, it appears that your artistic practice is mainly based other techniques. What importance do you give to photography: what role does it play in your work and ultimately what does photography mean to you? (memory, preservation, story, history, documentation?)
RB: My training is as a painter, and somehow I have moved toward a practice not focused on any specific medium but on certain ideas that haunt me: reconstruction, fragment, ruin, destruction and collection. In this sense, photography arises in my work as a medium that allows me to create and communicate these ideas. The importance I give to photography in my work is linked with the possibilities this medium offers me, for example; to register the changes a grafted fruit has or to document an ephemeral work done in a natural area. I respect the work of photographers so I do not consider myself a photographer, but a painter who registers the ideas that obsess me.
L: Toilet-paper, bread, fruits, plates, chairs; many of your installations are made with materials found at home. Is the “home” or domestic life, a subject you want to discuss through your work?
RB: The presence of everyday objects is a constant in my installations, photographs and videos,. The objects and materials are chosen for their symbolic connotations and sometimes for their residual character. The domestic space is not a theme in my work but the stories that evoke these objects in a specific context.
L: If I understand correctly and you grew up in Chile, then the years of your childhood and youth were lived through one of the longest and darkest times of Chilean history. Would you say that the violence apparent in your work (destruction, repair) is a reflection of your experience of life during childhood?
RB: I’ve always been interested in history and how certain events burst into it creating breaks and catastrophes. The serie Reconfiguraciones Domésticas is the reconstruction of stories that break into the history of my country. The anonymous voices of murdered and missing women during Pinochet´s dictatorship. With the series Urban Reconstructions I took the seismic history of Chile proposing a reconstruction of journalistic registers made of some earthquakes in Chile. I think that natural and manmade disasters are with us since immemorial time, creating our own biography.
L: The image you are presenting in the Laatikkomo gallery shows fruit that are cut or ripped apart and reassembled with different aids. Does this elude to your relationship to nature?
RB: My relationship with nature is recent and comes from an interest in the destructive processes generated by nature and against it. The serie Reconstrucciones Frutales alludes to notions of graft and transgenics, both notions are looking to improve the species through the manipulation of nature by mankind. The fragmentation of an organism followed by its reconstruction becomes a paradoxical gesture, which refers to these notions and their consequences. By grafting newsprint I rebuild these fruits altering its appearance towards a new look, all that is registered by the photograph.
L: The objects that you choose to work with are very carefully constructed but without a living context for them they seem to take on a certain symbolism. Are you consciously working with a symbolic or political message?
RB: Reconstrucciones Frutales symbolically alludes to the process of destruction and reconstruction undertaken by man and nature. Through the image of a grafted fruit, I try to think about transgenics as a degenerative action that weakens the object. Finally, each photograph shows the artificial gesture of scientific experiments.
L: Could you list 5 (or more) words you were thinking about when you made this work?
RB: Reconstruction, Graft, Fragment, Degenerative and Organic
Thank you so much Rodrigo!!