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Off the Curb

Roberto Gómez, New Dehli, India, 2012. From “Species of Objects” series, archival fine art print, 31.14” x 43.3”

Roberto Gómez, New Dehli, India, 2012. From “Species of Objects” series, archival fine art print, 31.14” x 43.3”

By Jose Antonio Navarrete

Born in Costa Rica in 1983, Roberto Gómez has made his name as creative force in Miami with his painting and photography, primarily as a result of “Stray Dog,” his first solo show, which is currently on view at ArtMedia Gallery in The Wynwood Building. There, you can find a portion of the works that comprise his photographic series “Species of Objects,” which includes images produced between 2006 and 2012. And while the title of the series alludes more to the unique nature of the objects found in the photographs, the title of the exhibition emphasizes the urban, street realism inherent in Gómez’s work.

The research underpinning the body of work of this series lies in the encounter between photography as an artistic practice and the transdisciplinary visual practices informed by sociology and urban anthropology. In 2006, while still a student at the New World School of the Arts, Gómez began photographing objects that revealed a human imprint related to the economic, social and cultural exchanges that take place within cities among low-income sectors of the population.

Roberto Gómez, Top: Beijing, China, 2008. Bottom: Jaipur, India, 2012. From “Species of Objects” series, archival fine art print, 37.22” x 29.13”

Roberto Gómez, Top: Beijing, China, 2008. Bottom: Jaipur, India, 2012. From “Species of Objects” series, archival fine art print, 37.22” x 29.13”

More than giving account of the symbolic connotations of the material and the structural condition of objects, Gómez was seduced by their possibilities for change and the redefinition of their function in the sphere of social relations-in other words, the way that objects are revealed as carriers of the behavioral modes - modes which are fluid, dynamic and variable.

It then became necessary for him to make this exploration while considering the global dimension of the problem. Gómez was aware that contemporary globalization processes demonstrate how, in the big cities - both in the East and the West - but more in those with high rates of poverty, people develop a culture transformative of objects; thus meeting their subsistence needs.

Following this premise, more than fixing his attention on the concrete social-historical contexts, Gómez moved through many different settings to find the forms of production and reproduction of this popular urban culture that, to underscore the concept, becomes global. From New Delhi, San Salvador, Mexico City, Miami, Eleuthera or Beijng - to name just a few of the places that, with his camera, he has traveled so far - have come the images from “Species of Objects.”

The work brought together in this exhibition is conceptually loaded with symbols that impact the viewer bluntly. With an absolute economy of visual resources, a detailed and disturbing chapter in the political economy that signals conditions of contemporary society is drawn.

Stray Dog is on view at ArtMedia Gallery through January 13, 2013. The Wynwood Building. 2750 NW 3rd Ave., Suite 12. Miami, FL, 33127. Phone: 305 318 8306.

José Antonio Navarrete is an independent curator and art critic based in Miami.