Centro de Ontología Nacional
In Centro de Ontología Nacional Jim Ricks has created a different museum in each room of Casa Maauad, forming a new national institution that utilizes common national narratives of identity. Centro de Ontología Nacional is about the construction of the Mexican identity, but contextualizes and compares it to other processes of national identity construction in an international way.
Centro de Ontología Nacional embraces the trick, the cons, and the con-ceit as provocations to find new common truths in the everyday. Exploring the logical absurdities that exist within the tensile relationship between knowledge and ignorance. For the exhibition, Ricks has filled his museums with collected works, using experienced craftspeople and fabricators to create new hybrid vernacular forms. Conversely he also interjects his own vision-as-work into the streets of Mexico City, thereby embedding his own language in the fabric of everyday life.
As an overall framework, Ricks uses ontology as a study of the way everyday things really are, and uses epistemology to prompt the question: 'How do we know these things to be true?' Centro de Ontología Nacional considers the arbitrariness inherent to the institutionalization of mythologies that form the basis for national, racial, and political identities.
Using mediums as varied as a torta truck, sign painting, a monumental piñata, market tables, murals, a velvet painting, neon, and bronze, Ricks plays with and reorganizes signs and symbols. Acknowledging the omnipresence of the capitalist system in a megapolis, Ricks assumes the metonymic idea of the ‘market' within the quotidian language of the mobile markets that occupy streets of Mexico City.
A subtext through his work takes up the idea of migration, literally and allegorically, as a sweeping mechanism throughout the natural world that forms the basis of production, growth, and creativity. Ricks is inspired by traditions of Institutional Critique, 4th Internationalist Marxism, and 'Dollar Store' aesthetics. His approach renders the artist a composite figure: historian, philosopher, activist, and aesthete.
Supported by the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust and the Arts Council of Ireland.
Thanks to Ernesto Chavez, Gilberto Garcia Gutierrez, Marco Antonio Silva Haro, René Hernández, Chavis Marmol, María del Mar Terrón Martínez, Erika Morales, ponchiux.deviantart.com, Oscar Reyes Torres, and Alfredo Vilchis.