A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Bert Rodriguez

Bert Rodriguez at his desk.

In conjunction with recent collaborations between Thomas Hollingworth, Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 (Magazine pg. 100), Modern Luxury (Miami) and NO MAD Paper, featuring Miami culture, ARTLURKER, will now present studio visits of select Miami based contemporary artists. Running concurrently with Art Basel Miami Beach the aim of these features is to venerate the cities native artistic wealth and honor those who continue to make Miami what it is.

Resounding with potency, Bert Rodriguez’s witty gestures and barely present statements, although largely momentary, seem to encapsulate time very well. Despite working in a realm of ‘service aesthetics’ where the pleasure one gleans from art is transmitted directly with fleeting immediacy there is an enduring quality to his art. And despite acting on impulses and apparently making a concerted effort not to labor over ideas, he has been heralded as being among the more progressive and critically intriguing artists of the time.

Where I end and you begin, 2008. Free foot massages given as Frieze commission, London.

Your work seems to be most successful when it is not documented either by video, photography or residual artifact.

I think in some was or another work is always documented. In my case historical documentation often comes through people writing about it. Most of the time I m not making objects so I don’t really have a choice, its either that or nothing.

Does that bother you?

No. I am actually really happy that it’s even happening. Up until recently I had always hoped that the rest of the world would just make up what I was doing so I didn’t have to, so guess now I am more satisfied than ever. This in itself is not that rare. If an artist were to create their own mythology it would be kind of weird and would probably make quite a few people in the art world redundant. In the end I am just doing what I do and I like doing it so I don’t want to commit to any one thing for fear of losing the freedom to do whatever I want.

The true artist makes useless shit for rich people to buy, 2008.

Your work deals with the relationship between its principle idea and the viewer’s reception of it. Recently you have been giving these ideas, either physically or metaphysically, to viewers, enabling them in a way. In creating an environment, that facilitates the reception of an idea do the details of the experience take a back seat role?

I am just setting up the circumstance for the idea to present itself. That sounds good. I just do these things that I think will be interesting and then people kind of tell me why. I am not bogged down with theatrics or any themes particularly. It’s again about whether the artist creates the mythology whether the mythology creates itself. You just create the experience and then from that come stories. Ultimately a story that other people will tell. Coming from the outside in as opposed to a centralized perspective allows for more ideas and more layers. It just seems more effective, and in a way, less transparent.

What a tree feels like, 2008.

Your persona has an air of someone who is quite selfish but what you do is actually quite generous. It’s a strange contradiction.

I think about this a lot actually. Like how we define selfishness and selflessness is very interesting to me. And for artists to have a really specific message seems to me to be dogmatic; you might as well be reading from the bible. Work is meant to be interpreted; how else can you get to all different layers of complex meaning in our experience if you are not allowing for that to happen within the work itself.

How long can you continue to out do your own practice with each new piece?

I don’t know. Honestly, again, just like I don’t worry about the work, I don’t worry about it. I just keep going. Eventually, and this happens to every artist I think, that you get into this repetitive public life. You just fall into a certain rhythm and I am trying to avoid it but really I think the only way to be free from it is to not think about it. I just ignore it and keep plugging along and stay true to the way in which I work which is simply to wake up and follow ideas sparked by going about my day. Hopefully, as I grow and change, my work will also grow and change. But that’s just me hoping for the best[.]

Bert Rodriguez, model of Weeping Monolith (2008), Wilson.

This year Rodriguez will show a piece at Art Basel Miami Beach entitled Weeping Monolith (a mini mock up of which is pictured with the artist above). Inspired by the film 2002 A Space Odyssey, the monolith, in science fiction a symbol of ultimate intelligence, will be made to cry, highlighting both a universal Achilles heel in emotion and the simple strength of humanity to be able to feel. In addition the artist has also released a book of postcards from an ongoing project where he invites people to design his image. Leaving piles of postcards featuring a hairless portrait of himself. Thus far the project has been done in Miami and Paris but Tokyo, London and other more remote areas are planned. Represented by Fredric Snitzer gallery in Miami, Rodriguez, unlike many artists who are entrenched in specific references, talks broadly about experience. His work as a result is diverse and interesting.


For more information please visit:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Bert Rodriguez