Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Hey Dario, I just got your woolly mammoth hairs in, give me a call."
September 25, 2009 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Oak twig carved from dissolved recording of the heartbeat of an unborn child and the last heartbeats of a loved one, bone dust from every bone in the body, ring finger bones coated in bullet lead from various American wars, glass eyes for wounded soldiers coated with trinitite produced during the first atomic explosion, WWI cavalry boots made from a melted record of Skeeter Davis' "The End Of The World".

San Antonio-based artist (he prefers "marterialist poet") Dario Robleto crafts exquisite objects using a physical lexicon that includes bone dust, analog audio recordings, war objects and remnants of extinction. By recontextualizing these items he hopes to reverse "historical amnesia" and to reengage the past by "seeking out and sympathizing with another era's hopes and losses through its people's stories and materials." Highly influenced by music, he considers his work sampling. As he says: "you don't have to make up anything; the world is magical on its own."
posted by nathancaswell (32 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Didn't want to link to it in the body of the post, but if you're interested Alloy of Love is a recent collection of his work to date.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:47 PM on September 25, 2009


Do you think it's really bone dust from every bone in the body, or is he just claiming that? It's not like we can verify it.
posted by keep_evolving at 12:52 PM on September 25, 2009


"Through his reconstruction of a prosthetic limb and then its insertion into the WWI military boot, Robleto is representing the leg’s physical attachment to the body and its role in the completion of the body."

Heavy, man. Take another toke.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:53 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also seen on the most recent Yo La Tengo album cover.
posted by anazgnos at 12:54 PM on September 25, 2009


I read that list and immediately thought of necromancer spell ingredients from D&D.
posted by Spacelegoman at 12:55 PM on September 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


He claims he only uses genuine materials. Considering how often it appears in his work I'm guessing he got his hands on a big batch of it at some point (you want bone dust from every bone in the body? I can get you bone dust from every bone in the body, believe me. There are ways, Dude).
posted by nathancaswell at 12:56 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


It almost never fails. Just when you are appreciating something beautiful, the artist comes and bloviates all over you.
posted by milarepa at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


I read that list and immediately thought of necromancer spell ingredients from D&D.
posted by Spacelegoman at 12:55 PM on September 25 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]


Well in the artist's own words: "you don't have to make up anything; the world is magical on its own."
posted by Pseudology at 1:12 PM on September 25, 2009


WWI cavalry boots made from a melted record of Skeeter Davis' "The End Of The World".

Skeeter Davis is the greater artist. That's means she's off limits for you, dude.
posted by Faze at 1:32 PM on September 25, 2009


homemade paper (pulp made from soldier’s letters sent home and wife/sweet-heart letters sent to soldiers from various wars, ink retrieved from letters

This is destructive and disrespectful. At least when I sample an old record I don't obliterate the original music from history.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:46 PM on September 25, 2009


This is destructive and disrespectful. At least when I sample an old record I don't obliterate the original music from history.

I'm going to take a contrarian stance on this as a thought exercise... I think that the letters were most likely obliterated from history BEFORE they were re-utilized, and this usage actually integrates them back into a cultural narrative. Before they were made part of this project, they were most likely languishing in a completely abandoned fashion. It's not like he broke into people's houses and stole their precious mementos; they were probably either recovered from something sent to be trashed, or donated explicitly for the installation. In both cases, they previously were going to fade completely into obscurity and outside of any personal context for anyone, sender or recipient, artist or audience, unless they were shown in a new light.

Also, these were personal letters from the front to the home, from a soldier to family - the content of the message is inherently personal, and not necessarily FOR the public to see. If the message has been felt by both the sender and recipient, then the physical letter itself becomes more of an emotional reliquary than an actual communication - kept for the comfort of it's existence alone, not to glean new knowledge from the arrangement of letters. If they were gifted from the old holders to the artist, one would imagine that they are comfortable with the usage of this emotional token in a new light, a light that would allow all participants to both project and receive new ideas of what the missives actually mean, both personally and as a societal whole.

Of course, he might have snatched the letters straight from the hands of weeping war widows, and then ran straight home to shred the paper while laughing a laugh both brutally callous and nefariously maniacal; if that's the case then we can all agree he's a total jackass fuckalope.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:21 PM on September 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dario took me to Bennigan's when I was the sixteen during a slumber party with his sister. Yes, he's awesome.
posted by Partario at 2:37 PM on September 25, 2009


I take your points FatherDragon, but a part of me feels a little pang of loss at someone destroying anything with historical context. I can (sort of) appreciate the meaning in what he's doing, but to me these letters and other artifacts have so much more meaning in situ.

mostly I'm just bitter that "bone dust" was never on my list of supplies for art class in high school. damn traditionalists.
posted by Think_Long at 2:38 PM on September 25, 2009


I take your points FatherDragon, but a part of me feels a little pang of loss at someone destroying anything with historical context.

Oh, I can absolutely understand that. I think another interesting way to think of it is that everything has a historical context - from the tree that grew to make the pulp of the paper before it was destroyed the first time through, to the pen that inked the words on the paper (the paper that would never be blank again, another irreversible change) and was undoubtedly discarded sometime later when the cartridge ran dry. Each one of these things are just arrangements of atoms until they are given a personal context, which is framed independently by each observer.

You may mourn the loss of the letters - the very same letters who's existence you weren't aware of until the news of their transformation arose. The physical objects never had a direct relation to you, the observer - it's entirely a mental construct that is being thought of as destroyed. But, you cannot destroy a thought... as Ovid says, 'Omnia mutantur, nihil interit' - 'Everything changes, nothing is lost'. Both the idea of the letters before and the idea of the new icon after can coexist, and each lends the other an additional layer of meaning based on our attachments to history and personal perception.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:58 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got to see this piece at the Hirshhorn recently. The description was on the wall, and the piece was in the middle of the room. At first, I thought the description was the art, then I looked over and saw it.

Nearly three years of art school should have prepared me to say something more than "cool", but it's Friday and my brain is done for the week.
posted by JoanArkham at 3:12 PM on September 25, 2009


It might have been done in the name of art, but a greater service would have been to donate those war letters to a specializing archive. It seems like a cheap trick to add value to one's art through the destruction of items much rarer, more valuable, than the end product.
posted by Atreides at 3:16 PM on September 25, 2009


I take your points FatherDragon, but a part of me feels a little pang of loss at someone destroying anything with historical context.

I'm pretty sure that pang of loss is an intentional part of the work.
posted by hermitosis at 3:19 PM on September 25, 2009


Former Apollo astronaut Alan Bean uses moon dust and patches of his old spacesuit in his lunar paintings.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:19 PM on September 25, 2009


I'm pretty sure that pang of loss is an intentional part of the work.

then curse him for making me feel
posted by Think_Long at 3:22 PM on September 25, 2009


I like it.
Museum curios with an underlying pulse of ... weird ju ju.

Skeeter Davis is the greater artist. That's means she's off limits for you, dude.

I disagree.
posted by philip-random at 3:51 PM on September 25, 2009


cultural narrative

I think the narrative hit a dead end here. What if one of these works is ever seperated from it's carefully cultivated description? If Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, Seattle, die in a car crash tomorrow the folded shirt and pile of buttons on display in their hall minus its artists statement and fawning owners is reduced to what it actually is - nothing, sitting in a hall. Visual art that needs lengthy footnotes is a fail because it can't succeed without a huge amount of pretence in a carefully controlled environment. There's nothing wrong with that, and art of this kind can be interesting when the end result is something worthwhile, but a lot of the effort put into these pieces is a waste of time because most of them are just not stimulating. I'd be more excited if his project was him buying crap at auction and inventing provenance for it. Which is not outwith the realms of possibility here.

A more productive way to introduce historically important Civil war letters back into the cultural narrative (if they need be) might be donating them to a library or institution, rather than pulping them to create curiosities which are of negligible artistic importance. There are undoubtedly interesting ideas here, but I can't warm to the end product and there is simply no need to use something as unique as a hand written letter.

Before they were made part of this project, they were most likely languishing in a completely abandoned fashion. It's not like he broke into people's houses and stole their precious mementos; they were probably either recovered from something sent to be trashed, or donated explicitly for the installation.

I imagine he bought them at house clearances/auctions. He found them, and with all the responsibility that comes with uncovering historically important items that have been forgotten or neglected, he dissolved them to create his wacky art. If I had bought them, they'd be in an institution or with a collector who would respect them.

In both cases, they previously were going to fade completely into obscurity and outside of any personal context for anyone, sender or recipient, artist or audience, unless they were shown in a new light.

They're still heading for obscurity, possibly at a faster rate than they were before. Sadly, since nobody can read them their historical value is 0 and they are now not going to be discovered again, that prospect being robbed from them when Robleto destroyed their integrity.

All that said, I genuinely don't believe some of the claims regarding the materials.

Post constructed from hair taken from my ballsack.
posted by fire&wings at 3:55 PM on September 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


I hate art.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:49 PM on September 25, 2009


I eat art.
posted by philip-random at 4:50 PM on September 25, 2009


or maybe it's just 'art' I hate. I don't know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:50 PM on September 25, 2009


I hate art.

That is an absurd(ly generalized) statement that not even you truly believe, Stav. I'd put money on it.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:00 PM on September 25, 2009


Context: Skeeter Davis sings 'The End of The World'.
posted by ovvl at 9:08 PM on September 25, 2009


I don't have any formal training in art or art appreciation, but I think some of these guys are just bullshit artists who say a bunch of fancy stuff to try to trick people into mistakenly thinking they're too stupid to get it when the truth is the artist is a poseur who doesn't have anything valuable to contribute or any good ideas. I wonder how much "art" is accidently thrown out by the cleaning lady after hours.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:23 PM on September 25, 2009


That last one reads like the material components to Summon Eleanor Antin, Greater.
posted by adipocere at 10:37 PM on September 25, 2009


I love art, but there are some artists I just feel like slapping and telling them to get over themselves.
posted by mahke at 12:29 AM on September 26, 2009


Your favorite Joseph Cornell rip-off artist sucks.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:39 PM on September 26, 2009


I love art, but there are some artists I just feel like slapping and telling them to get over themselves.

I'd wager that a lot of artists don't care for the pretentious gibberish themselves, but unfortunately it seems you can't get noticed/taken seriously in the art world by saying "I had a cool idea for a thing to make, and I made it. Here it is."
posted by rifflesby at 5:56 PM on September 26, 2009


That is an absurd(ly generalized) statement that not even you truly believe, Stav. I'd put money on it.

Gotta get up early in the morning to get one by you, CF!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:19 PM on September 27, 2009


« Older Thirsty bats caught in the act!...  |  In part because a gender gap p... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments