Immaculate Deception

Tangled tale of intrigue unfolds at the Frost

No chance. In the Spanish-language chamber of Torres Llorca's neo-noir novela, viewers come across a series of elegant men's and women's suits patterned from burlap. The coarse material of the clothing seems pristine and bears his trademark slate chalkboard images of men and women from the mid-1900s. "Have you seen this person?" the artist cryptically asks in a tone dripping with irony, which conjures thoughts of missing-person mail inserts often discarded without a second glance.

Political Speech, a small bust of a man retching up a tangle of rope, lies on the floor nearby. Knotted into the mess are small faces of men and women, their mouths erased by a black slash of paint. The work seems to reference a byzantine drain down which swirl contrasting ideologies: the extreme left of the artist's native Cuba and the extreme right of Miami's Cuban exile community. Another Kafka quote mentions that although the hunting dogs are romping in the yard, the hare can't escape regardless of how swiftly it flees into the woods. On the floor below, the artist has arranged a sculpture of a dog and a pig watching cheesy samurai dustups followed by static in a grainy video shown on a monitor.

In American Kamikaze, a World War II pilot clad in bombardier gear holds a cigarette butt. Words in this collage read like a middle-class moan-fest decrying taxes, recession, inflation, mortgage payments, and the high cost of health insurance and education. This piece, like others scattered throughout, appears to be a red herring compared to the more scathing and direct comments referencing the artist's dalliances with the art world, such as a quote in Spanish by French writer Boris Vian. Torres Llorca relates that when trolling the commercial waters for benefactors, one often finds himself hustling. Roughly translated: "I won't kiss you on the mouth — it's too personal. Anything else can be arranged for a price."

Is Ruben Torres Llorca giving us a chance to slip away from 
his stinging barrage?
Is Ruben Torres Llorca giving us a chance to slip away from his stinging barrage?


Through March 19.
Frost Art Museum, Charles Perry Building, Florida International University, SW 107th Ave, Miami; 305-348-2890.

New Acquisitions from the Collection of the Artist — a compilation of Afro-Cuban fetishes bearing the names of curators, art critics, collectors, museum directors, and art dealers — convinces the viewer that Torres Llorca is weary of grabbing his ankles for the powers that be and feeling like a puppet on a string.

Perhaps too deep in the mud to make his point more emphatically, the artist asks us to solve a crime in a nightmarish scenario where he finds himself foisting eye jewelry on fat cats like pearls before swine. For all of its exacting and flawless execution, the exhibit reveals that Torres Llorca wants out of a hole. He's tipping us off that the art racket ain't nothin' but trouble, and any way you cut the mustard, it's a crying shame.

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