Mauricio Gonzalez’s sculpture is a complete aesthetic response to the state and condition of Florida. By creating his pieces, which are both bodies and sites, out of the physical detritus of the housing crisis, Gonzalez inserts his practice between Modernist social planning and the attempted revival of subjective humanism. Just as Florida is caught in the eternal sway between boom and bust (and the similarly alternating process of self-definition), Gonzalez’s work balances between levity and collapse. He uses surfaces to create the illusion of structural integrity. There are whimsical arabesques that are nailed into place.
When approaching this work, one must make a distinction between his materials, which usually originated from construction projects, and objects, as ontologically complete–in and of themselves. Moreover, there’s a problem with found materials. It implies randomness, and with that, a lack of purpose bordering on gullibility. Finding something is usually met with a naive glee reserved for children on Easter Sunday. But what if there was no surprise involved? What if the objects in question weren’t passively found, but were very purposefully scavenged from foreclosed lots around Miami, as evidence of the larger system that led to them being lost in the first place?
In discarding bits of the natural suburban environment, the former owners of these materials do not just disintegrate the physical item (the home, the automobile, the Fisherprice playset), they lay waste to its symbolic import as well – that of the secure and permanent home. This is where Gonzalez begins, with impermanence. These pieces do not seem like they will survive the winter. The materials will decompose, they will begin to sag. In this regard, they come to resemble the body. In her essay Ecce Homo, Isabelle Graw said that “the anthropomorphic return is emblematic of life under the conditions of celebrity culture, where products become persons, and persons are themselves commodified.” She continues to discuss the work of Rachel Harrison, whose sculptures are both objects and subjects. This trend is apparent in the work of Mauricio Gonzalez, whose sculpture additionally recalls a place (specific or generic, it doesn’t matter) and presents a trajectory of its inevitable decline.
Mauricio Gonzalez was born in Havana. His first solo exhibition at Fredric Snitzer Gallery will be in January.