Rodrigo Valenzuela: Prole
June 11 – September 11, 2016
Rodrigo Valenzuela’s exhibition Prole, which is named after a pejorative term used to denote members of the proletariat or working classes, examines the history of the labor union movement in the United States and the fading spirit of collective bargaining in contemporary culture. Identifying the ways in which notions and expressions of individuality are prioritized over communal organization and activity, Valenzuela asserts that the erosion of a collective sense of shared responsibility towards the “greater good” of society results not only in weakened social capital but also, ironically, in the loss of personal identity. Employing the framework of the union flag as a starting point, the artist has created a series of large-scale paintings that seek to place his work as an individual artist within the trajectory of the labor movement. Undermining the division between the types of physical labor that are commonly performed in what is understood to be “working-class” work and the labor that is utilized in the production of art, the artist simultaneously asserts that “thinking is a labor-intensive duty”.