Marco Rios' exhibition at the Simon Preston Gallery
may be short, but don't call it sweet. There are only eight objects in the room, but the sculptures are as lethal as they are mundane. A giant spoon might come across as whimsical, but a giant spoon with a drill in lieu of a handle? That's only good for one thing, and it's definitely not soup. Plasma Pool
(through April 25) is a skillfully edited exhibition about mining the inner-self through whatever means possible. For Rios, it's a two-step process: through photographs, Rios duplicates and establishes himself as "other." Through sculpture, he devises ways to pull some sort of truth out of this "other" Rios, no matter how painful the process.
Through an amalgam of sculpture, photography, and an explanation on a dry-erase board, Rios sets up a Jekyll and Hyde
-esque narrative of a man versus himself. In "Transformation"
(2009), a diagram on a dry-erase board, Rios reveals to the viewer his alternate (and Americanized) self, Mark Rivers. Rios depicts himself in an untitled photograph sitting on a bed, his face disfigured and porcine, nothing short of monstrous. Another untitled photograph depicts Rios in profile, his head replaced completely by a giant nut. Directly in front of this self-portrait sits a 72-inch tall, freestanding, aluminum nutcracker entitled "Neurochemical Squirt"
(2009). On the surface, the juxtaposition of these images is both funny and uncomfortable. But it's also a literal account of how wrenching self-reflection and critique can be.
Three other large sculptures occupy the gallery's periphery; the aforementioned spoon, lovingly called "Affectionate Cranial Scoop" (2009), sits benignly on a shelf against the wall. The two others are freestanding structures made up of a complicated series of criss-crossed clear rubber tubes, funnels, and colorful stoppers. They look more like a co-ed's idea of a drinking game or a children's chemistry set than anything else, until a closer look reveals their true purpose. "Tear Sips"
(2009) is designed to catch the tears of two people locked in embrace, perhaps for later consumption. But "Orificial Juice Exchange," (2009) as the name implies, suggests a much more thorough attempt at unmitigated, mechanical intimacy.
Rios' sculptures are literal means of turning the body inside out, all in the name of self-enlightenment. Laughing in the face of physical pain, Rios leaves no stone unturned in his quest for self. It is worth noting that his self-portraits remain untitled and nameless, as though they are nothing more than passive items of objective study. The ghastly instruments that will probe his consciousness, however, warrant ironic and affectionate names. Rios navigates his own psychology with this same dark wit and scientific precision. Though he may never find a the answers he is looking for through these medieval methods, his attempts in Plasma Pool
make for a moving and visceral visual experience.
(image credit: Marco Rios, Simon Preston Gallery)