Water the Earth with Your Tears

December 11, 2021 – January 16 2022

Dmitri Obergfell

The presentation of images and sculptures in this exhibition broadly speaks to modern existence’s distraction, an idea borrowed from Walter Benjamin. Images are layered, appropriated, re-contextualized to set an atmosphere of visual absorption for the viewer. These works provide many cultural references to move through rather than having one subject to focus on to reflect contemporary life. Processes range from ancient to contemporary, from lost wax bronze to 3D prints, creating an atemporal conceptual foundation.

Artist Statement
Time is one of the central pillars of my work. I often use historical art references to tether the history of humanity with contemporary experience. I am most interested in archetypal forms and narratives that replicate throughout time despite geographic proximity or date, like the flame or web. References to Mexican folk saints and narco-culture are a nod to my identity as a Latino whose estranged Mexican father is a former drug trafficker. I speculate and mythologize with these references about who my father is/was and how that filters into my identity. These references help focus the lens of the media I absorb and the experiences I live.

The bombardment of environmental media that exists today also plays a significant role in my work output. Specifically, I have been viewing environmental media through the parameters of cultural hegemony presented by Antonio Gramsci. Cultural hegemony is the control of society through the setting and reinforcing of cultural norms in media by the ruling class rather than using authoritarianism. We have seen an outbreak of culture wars in western societies and specifically the United States in the recent past due to conflicting ideas of what western societies should be. This work doesn’t attempt to prescribe how to end the culture war but rather observe and show that Marvel movies,
Paw Patrol, etc. aren’t benign content.

These ideas may not follow a logical path but act more as a Venn diagram or web to help interpret the work.

Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations, translated by Henry Zohn. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968
Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, edited by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. New York: International Publishers, 1972

About the Artist

Dmitri Obergfell (b.1986) is an artist working and living in Denver, Colorado where he recently constructed a home studio in his backyard. Obergfell’s work is defined by his identities as a Latino and the estranged son of a former “narco” and a racehorse trainer and media saturation in contemporary visual cultures.  

Since graduating from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Obergfell has exhibited in the US, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, and the Czech Republic. Exhibitions of note include Mi Tierra:  Contemporary Artists Explore Place at the Denver Art Museum (2017), Thieve Amongst Thieves at the  Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2015), Go Home Bacchus at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (2018), Verbal Taboos and Silence at Plain Gallery in Milan (2021), and Epílogo presented by Arteriam in Mexico City (2021).  

Currently, Obergfell is at work on an upcoming collaboration with Courtney Stell. Bodega will be a contemporary art grocer. Focusing on food security and visual art in Denver’s Villa Park neighborhood, the project is partially funded by the Insite Fund. 

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