The Zone

27 Jan 2017 - 25 Mar 2017

Dürst Britt & Mayhew is delighted to present Mexican artist Raúl Ortega Ayala ‘s first solo exhibition at the gallery.

Ortega Ayala will premiere his new videowork ‘The Zone’, which deals with the 30-kilometre radius uninhabited area in the Ukraine directly affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986. For four years Ortega Ayala has been visiting this derelict territory to obtain footage for a film that seeks to resurface (through first hand accounts of witnesses) an unprecedented event in our history where man-made technology went wrong and rendered uninhabitable a vast area that includes entire cities and monumental structures. The footage was shot purposefully during different seasons (with and without the main characters) in order to constantly play with the visual narrative, with our perception of time and to illustrate the erratic behavior of memories.

‘The Zone’ forms part of Ortega Ayala’s current research project ‘From the Pit of Etc.’, which deploys methodologies used in History and Archaeology for an ongoing series devoted to the concept of absence, trace, and iconoclasm. The exhibition also contains various photographic images the artist shot while visiting the ghost town of Pripyat, which was founded on 4 February 1970 to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and had grown to a population of 49,360 by the time it was evacuated in 1986.

A different vein in Ortega Ayala’s current research project is constituted by a series of ‘paintings’, revealing images that are hidden under paintings from various museum collections. By obtaining permission to use x-rays the museums deploy for conservation or authentication purposes, Ortega Ayala manages to conjure up intriguing dichotomies, which otherwise would be lost to eternity.

Raúl Ortega Ayala (1973) is currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. He studied Painting at ‘La Esmeralda’ in Mexico City and then traveled to the Glasgow School of Art for a Master in Fine Arts. Solo exhibitions include ‘Living Remains’ at Stroom Den Haag and ‘Melting Pots’ at Rokeby Gallery in London. Recent group exhibitions include ‘Stirring the Pot of Story’ at the Delfina Foundation in London, ‘Silent Light’ at Dürst Britt & Mayhew, ‘True Story’ at Proyectos Monclova in Mexico City and ‘Yes Naturally’ at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in The Hague. His next solo exhibition in 2017 will be at Proyectos Monclova in Mexico City. Work by Ortega Ayala is held in private and public collections, including the David Roberts Art Foundation, the AkzoNobel Art Foundation and the VandenBroek Foundation.



Click to read ‘Presents of the Past’, a specially commissioned interview between Raúl Ortega Ayala and Nat Muller.


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