Calendar 2023 | “Tarzan in Paris”

Edition 1/25
Inkjet copy

Marco Pando has been developing a trajectory based on the development of alter-egos who, as protagonists of their own narratives, reveal details of their contexts and simultaneously articulate works that from their beginnings are linked to each other by maintaining a dialogue with the culture institution from two key areas: the museum and cinema… both – cultural constructions or machines – constitute both modellers of meaning and generators of imaginaries. Thus, exhibitions such as “Cultural Conqueror” (2017) and “Museum Tomb Raider ” (2019) each denote an active character that slips into the different works presented. This is where the details of one work can be traced in different ways in others, thus establishing a complex and open interrelationship in proposals with no apparent formal link but articulated from an elastic narrative. These characterizations constitute developments from a mise-en-scène crossed by the experience of cinematography – which is a crucial element in the artist’s biography.

And it is from this cinematographic imaginary that Marco Pando personifies – this time physically – a Tarzan who mimics his adventures in the jungles in a Paris of great fountains, baroque sculptures and other examples of urban infrastructure: artificial and domesticated environments for a parodic mimesis of the idealized “good savage”. Faced with this monumentality of Paris, the only thing left is the search for a loophole from which to obliquely generate a commentary on power and the seduction constructed from its aura. From this perspective, Marco Pando seeks to generate a dialogue that accounts for the inequalities and contrasts of the possible link (negotiating its otherness). Assuming difference implies giving the character a camp (exaggerated) tone, confronting the public space with a humour that slips decolonial warmth… seeking to deconstruct the mythical halo of magnificence that the city of light has generated in contemporary culture.
Rethinking the figure of Tarzan takes us – beyond the exemplary referent of Edward Rice Burroughs’ 1912 pulp novel – to intercultural negotiation and processes of identity shaped in situations of displacement, immigration or the search for refuge. Humour as a way of generating familiarity with the unknown: seeking to domesticate the environment and create the possibilities for liberation. If Burroughs’ white Tarzan, still conscious of his English aristocratic lineage, returns to the jungle; in Pando we perceive a romantic nostalgia that motivates the search for interstices in the imaginaries of hegemonic popular culture in order to inscribe his contribution in history.

This vision transcends the experience of Paris with utopian visions full of retro-futurism: glass architecture cities (heirs to avant-garde visions but also to science fiction) but choked by giant plants. Are these visions of reparation, revenge or reversal of order? It is clear that they emerge at a time when the average citizen is more aware of the massive deforestation of tropical forests, the inexorable advances of climate change, and the accelerating precariousness of life.
From the materiality and function of the known object, textiles for clothing, rugs and utilitarian objects – initially developed by nomadic tribes for protection – the artist is posed into a search for other layers of meaning possible through obliteration and intervention… inquiring into the possible magical re-enchantment of the found object in the generic sea of industrial mass production. And this would seem – also – an understandable commentary on museums (not exempt of pieces from plundering) as meticulously encyclopaedic as the Louvre, in which Pando confronts his non-European condition, verifying the material accumulation of the once colonial powers – the latter, converted into raw material for the tourist offer of which the city capitalizes.

Pando’s Tarzan is a minimal gesture that is understood by the commentary it makes on a familiar narrative already worn out by the entertainment industries. Beyond the US North American pulp that generated it as exotic fantasy literature, there remains the place of enunciation and the body that re-creates it. Here we are in tune with the anonymous immigrants who do not seek to integrate according to official assimilationist policies; those who resist by decolonizing the narratives of the symbols of hegemonic power and at the same time tropicalizing them according to those dissident sensibilities full of critical humour, with the desire to overcome exoticism practices and the hierarchies that allow (perhaps) horizontalising the dialogue between different people.
Yes, claiming erotic/heroic creation, but softly.

Carlos León-Xjimenez
Berlin. August 2022

Marco Pando







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