“It’s almost like when you look at a wound, or when you look at something that’s abject, that you’re not supposed to look at,” says Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya, about the delicate and often seductive relationship between attraction and disgust, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in his hybrid sculptures evoking a monstrous tactility and sense of dreadful fascination. “There is a kind of grace that you can see, maybe, when you find an animal body out in the desert that’s decomposing.” Speaking to editor Steph Kretowicz for AQNB’s latest Artist Statement podcast, the interdisciplinary artist’s installations and their accompanying stories that echo the Aztec mythology of shapeshifting beings called Nahuales.
Born in Mexico’s Parral, Chihuahua and raised at the Mexico-United States border of Juárez–El Paso, Montoya’s cosmology absorbs the memories and information embedded in the weathered human refuse of the desert, which the artists collects, repurposes and reanimates with the narratives of their own friends, experiences and traumas. Not quite human and not quite animal, these phantoms can move with a freedom often not afforded the Latinx migrant communities that inhabit the same area along the Rio Grande.
‘The Aesthetic of Evil’ is the latest in our Artist Statement podcast series, with past episodes featuring Adham Faramawy, Margaret Haines, Tianzhuo Chen, Rhea Dillon, and more. The full episode is accessible to our subscribers right now on Patreon. Sign up now: www.patreon.com/aqnb.**