The artist's deliberate use of text functions as a critique of official propaganda and how it drowns public opinion in a cascade of interminable noise. He captures the implosion of the utopian ideal and a collective state of despair where notions of hope seem little more than distant dreams.
In PanAm's project room, Ryder Cooley delicately bottles a pervasive sense of melancholia and existential anomie with her installation, Reliquary. She spent two weeks staining the walls with tea bags, giving the room an almost timeless tone and mood. Inside the space, dozens of drawings mounted on wood line the walls salon-style. Most of the pieces are the size of a shoebox lid, and each represents a cipher of submerged feeling that narrates a greater story when the drawings are considered together.
René Francisco Rodríguez's Heaven.
René Francisco Rodríguez and Pedro Pablo and Oliva Ryder Cooley's Reliquary: Through November 25. PanAmerican Art Projects, 2450 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-2400, www.panamericanart.com. Tuesday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday noon to 6 p.m.
The works depict people crying or carrying war victims on stretchers. Some of the characters resemble forest pixies that are double amputees. Others look like regal matrons crowned by heraldic deer heads, while in some cases women's eye sockets sprout unruly tresses like a corpse bride at a masquerade.
Decaying forests, menacing apparitions, dead rodents, putrefying sparrows, and soaring church spires add to the bleakness of Cooley's haunting wastelands. Within the tangle of images, a human hair braid, a desiccated sea horse, and a moldy mallard's head jut from walls, nooks, and crevices.
A pair of tiny birdhouses, containing business-card-size video screens and sprouting feathered wings, injects life into the lonely scene. Through their peepholes one observes flocks of crows flying backward while flapping their wings hypnotically.
Suddenly the plaintive wail of a Spanish guitar penetrates the muffled gloom. On a far wall, the shadow of a gypsy girl comes to life and spins like a dervish in a sepia-toned glow. A thin wind seems to pass through the room as Cooley creeps under the skin, creating a beguiling experience that nags at the imagination long after her works are out of sight.