INTERVIEW
ROBERTO JACOBY - ARTIST
ROBERTO JACOBY - ARTIST

By Muireann Prendergast

Roberto Jacoby’s Darkroom is an exercise in alienation. From the moment the visitor stands alone outside the exhibition awaiting entry to one of several one-person cubicles to the point to putting on headphones in the pitch-black space of Darkroom, a sense of rupture, even remoteness from other people and the normality of day-to-day life is introduced.

This idea of estrangement is reinforced by the characters on the screens inside the cubicles. Although, they are dressed the same in white plastic suits and featureless masks, there is no sense of interconnection between them. Instead, they are engaged in a series of solitary activities such as eating, drinking and even smelling a flower. Sexual acts are also disconnected - both in the form of singular masturbation and in group sex where figures refuse to face each other.

Novelist, Ricardo Piglia has likenened the sense of alienation explored by Jacoby to that intrinsic to the stories of Borges. However, this estimation is not entirely accurate. There is something incredibly modern about the disenfranchisement of Jacoby’s figures. The silence of the characters within the multimedia framework of videos and computers evokes ideas of being set-adrift despite increasing globalising trends to unify. Also, Jacoby’s inclusion of a performance routine as an accompaniment to the exhibition within the cubicles suggests a contemporary attempt to assualt the visitor’s consciousness on every possible level.

Ultimately, there is a sense that this exhibition is simply before its time in Buenos Aires. Local visitors pass through generally shocked by the flagrantly sexual images on screen without fully exploring the ideas that this exhibition is intended to provoke. Also, there have been suggestions that feelings of alienation are not as close to the Argentine sense of identity as Jacoby appears to suggest. As one visitor asserted: “As a people, we are very close to our families and this has enabled us to come through whatever political and ecomonic difficulties our country has had. Jacoby’s exhibition is therefore more of an interesting oddity for us than a refection of the Argentine consciousness.”

Does the sense of alienation that is central to Darkroom reflect a modern alienation in Argentine society or does it refer to an older idea – present, for example, in the writing of Borges?

I suppose that every exhibition that I have put together in some way reflects the Argentine situation – there is always the influence of one’s native land on one’s thought-processes. However, I hope that the alienation that Darkroom explores is ultimately a universal concept and that a bias towards the Argentine consciousness does not predominate the work. However, I like to think of myself as an artist that deals with issues thoroughly so if traces of a particular Argentine sense of alienation – whether old or modern or both - are there for some visitors then I cannot argue.

Given the emphasis of family and social networks in Argentina, how do Argentine audiences respond to Darkroom?

Darkroom is a very complex work, comprising a video installation, performance and stories. Audiences, whether Argentine or otherwise, perceive different things and in different ways. In fact, I could go further to say that every person who enters Darkroom relates differently to it. This is therefore a difficult question to ask as there are an infinite number of possible responses.

Your exhibitions frequently include multimedia elements – why is it important for you to include more than one media?


The use of multimedia elements is not crucial in and of itself. However, I am drawn to different media as and when I feel I need them. I use whatever media best suit the processes of my imagination as well as the overall concept or concepts that I wish to explore.


In the 1980´s you were involved in the rock group “Virus”. Has your musical background influenced your work at all?

I participated in “Virus” simply because it made me happy at that time. Now, that experience is important to my processes of composition in that it enables me to enter into a “state of happiness” in which I get much inspiration.

How do you think the art scene in Buenos Aires has changed since the publication of your 1966 “First Manifesto of Media Art” (with Eduardo Costa and Raul Escari)?

Art that was considered “vanguard” and even controversial in Buenos Aires in 1966 is now the point of departure for today’s artists.

How would you like to see the Buenos Aires art scene develop in the future?

I would like artists to demonstrate in their works that they live a superior and noble way of life – a way of life that is intelligent, generous and free from constricting societal influences. I would like future artists in Buenos Aires to move beyond today’s predominant school of thought that says art must necessarily reflect real life to have any meaning.

More about Roberto Jacoby & Darkroom: http://proyectov.org/darkroom/

 

Roberto Jacoby with Laurie Anderson
Roberto Jacoby with Laurie Anderson
Darkroom
Darkroom
Jacoby Birthday Celebration
Jacoby Birthday Celebration
Jacoby Birthday Celebration
Jacoby Birthday Celebration
Jacoby Birthday Celebration
Jacoby Birthday Celebration
Jacoby and Nacho Ahora
Jacoby and Nacho Ahora