The Multiplication of Bread/La Multiplication de los Panes by Marcos Ramírez ERRE
November 20, 2002 - January 11, 2003
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA
Marcos Ramírez ERRE’s body of work produced over the past decade marries two non-exclusive artistic traditions: a Mexican tradition of socially engaged work and a Californian tradition of conceptualism. A self-taught artist who did not start exhibiting work until the age of 32, Ramírez (who goes by the nickname “ERRE,” the Spanish pronunciation of the letter “R”) consolidates the two fields of his prior careers - building construction and the practice of law - into his artistic practice. He is a superb craftsman and an eloquent social critic who has received critical acclaim for producing work that functions both as social commentary and as open-ended statements geared towards engaging a personal response from the viewer.
A father to two pre-adolescent boys, Ramírez has recently investigated how depictions of violence and engagement with these portrayals, particularly through video games, have cultivated a generational culture of confrontation and subsequent retaliation. In an outdoor sculpture installed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Institute of Visual Arts in 1999 entitled Playstation, Ramírez transformed a playground set of slides and ladders into a nightmarish maze of nooses, spikes, and booby traps - an environment designed to inflict damage upon contact. He further develops his investigations into the nature of violence in this current installation by using a similar sculptural strategy - one that incorporates the symbolism and artifacts of the world of children.
Initially inspired by the Bush Administration’s ongoing war on terrorism and the looming military conflict with Iraq, Ramírez wanted to create an installation that questions the use of violence as a way to solve political, economic, social, and cultural problems of the world. He was also very interested in exploring the complexities of the humanitarian operations that occurred concurrently with American military operations. Five nights after retaliatory military operations commenced in Afghanistan in mid-October 2001, United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircrafts began to airdrop more than a quarter million humanitarian daily rations (HDR) packets for Afghans facing winter starvation. These two-pound canary yellow packages branded with American flags floated through the night sky over Afghanistan, imprinted with the words, “This is a food gift from the people of the United States of America.” Although the United States intended to focus strictly on dismantling Taliban and Al Qaeda infrastructures, many bombs missed their targets and landed in residential areas. Mile high aircrafts delivered the ultimate riddle from the sky - annihilation or nourishment?
By drawing reference to the miracle of Jesus Christ feeding a multitude of people with just a single loaf of bread, Ramírez frames this sculptural tableau within centuries-old polarities - creation and destruction, love and hatred, harmony and conflict, compassion and indifference. Are we able to foster a method of conflict resolution that rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation if we are not even able to see clearly all of the reasons for conflict in the first place? Will our children be given the tools to develop alternative ways to resolve conflict?