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Fragmented Stories
RÉBELLION MATHÉMATIQUE
Humberto Duque
Babel, September 12 – 21, 2008

Alone and Unaware, the Landscape Was Transformed in Front of Our Eyes.
-Red Sparowes

Stepping into the well-lit Babel premises in mid-September, you find yourself in a kind of miniature landscape consisting of tiny architectonic and sculptural objects. The objects are carefully and ingeniously constructed from cut paper, cardboard and plastic. By aid of crayons and enamel paint, their surfaces have been covered by bright, unbroken colours. At first sight the objects may resemble amateur cardboard models; some look like models for architectonic projects or machines, others more like design objects or toys. Looking closer, one will discover that the objects do not fit neatly into traditional categories (except for the two small model planes hanging from the ceiling); they are a mixture of architecture, machines, vehicles and nature, containing both serious and playful elements. They resemble hybrids brought down from another level of reality. The works stand out as absurd, yet beautiful. The materials used make them appear light, sometimes frail, but they are all characterized by a fabulous playfulness. It is easy to take a liking to and be fascinated by the colourful and fantastic universe of the Mexican artist Humberto Duques (born1978). Like a curious explorer one moves between the strange objects of the unpredictable, deserted comic book or science-fiction-like landscape, wondering what has happened, what lurks behind the silence and what may suddenly take place.

Except for the two mentioned planes, all the objects are placed on the floor – apparently just scattered around – as the requisites for a film set or the toys left behind when children have wearied of their engaging role-playing. After a while one becomes conscious of the curious lack of protagonists in this weird topography. The absence of protagonists invites the spectators to enter the role of a filmmaker or a playing child and make up a story to go with the objects in the gallery space. Humberto Duque himself sees the narrative element as a key element in his works; it is this element that has the power to create a unique world. Various situations may be connected to make up stories. The various objects and the landscape work as a backdrop to these individual stories. The models may be animated by aid of the spectator’s imagination so that they at any time may start to move, drive along the floor, shoot into the air, glide over the surface or even transform into threatening creatures. The objects are unstable, uncontrollable, living a life of their own in a (meta-)world of their own, and hence following rules of their own.

Childish playful imagination, utopian (adult) dreams, dystopian scenarios, anything is possible – and impossible – in a world created by the power of imagination.

A model makes possible a reconfiguration of something that is overlooked or secret but it may also hint at a particular vision of the future. Besides, the ephemeral character of a model suits the nomadic life of an artist (e.g. that of Humberto Duques); it may easily be dissembled and transported from one place to another. The most impressing work of RÉBELLION MATHÉMATHIQUE is also the largest one, a work the artist brought along to Trondheim from a stay in Korea. According to Humberto Duque, this work, entitled Shoot Wrong Numbers (2008), is an attempt to bring a pseudo-futuristic architecture closer to a baseball court. Science fiction and baseball probably have little or nothing in common, but it is precisely by employing incongruous elements that the artist constructs his own imaginary universe where laws of their own apply. Humour and the absurd are important ingredients in Humberto Duque’s works.

I play sense off against nonsense. I prefer nonsense, but it is a purely personal matter.
- Kurt Schwitters

Something that has always fascinated the undersigned as far as the historical avantgarde is concerned, is its rebellion against the borgeois ideals and traditional values, expressed through its radically new forms and absurdist content. Dadaism with its non-sense culture, its provoking behaviour underpinned by irony and cynicism, the emphasis on the illogical and coincidental, expressed by means of montage, collage and ready-mades, to me is both magical and seducing. The contrast that is created when one puts together apparently incongruous elements, opens up for exciting new relationships and ways of interpretation. When Humberto Duque combines two so diametrically different worlds as science-fiction and baseball in RÉBELLION MATHÉMATIQUE the result is strange hybrids, hybrids that are absurd, solemn and yet playful, beautiful and poetical. Apparently they are balanced, but they are full of secret contradictions which make them ungovernable – just like imagination itself.

Why RÉBELLION MATHÉMATIQUE? The artist has explained that a rébellion mathématique, that is, a matematical rebellion, is impossible. This kind of contradiction in terms is also called an oxymoron. A rebellion appears suddenly and unpredictably – it is ungovernable – while mathematics is characterized by logic and follows the rules.

Sara Høye
Translated by Birgit Kvamme Lundheim