This is the original video of Alien Toy that was presented first at Insite 97 in San Diego ten years ago. Tom Pattchet now owns the whole piece. The Tate Modern recently acquired the video. The truck has been shown at Site Santa Fe, Track 16 gallery and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It danced at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, Bergamont Station, the Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara and four times in the Lowrider Super show winning the Radical Bed Dancing Award in all of them. The video was presented at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, the Kunst Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid and the Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes in Mexico City among other places. The truck also appears in video clips of Fatboy Slim and Hextatic and it was featured in the Jay Leno show.
Political boundaries start with private property of land protected and defined by force. Real state borders are usually defined by gardens. Modern gardeners have become the urban and industrialized version of peasants and artists. They work for the owners of the land. Southern California is distinct by its beautiful gardens. Workers who have to cross these political and real state boundaries usually tend to these gardens. They own their means of production and have become small entrepreneurs. These are sleek power tools. They are functional and symbolic objects. They pollute and make noise but we depend on them precisely to create the necessary green areas and artificial nature of the city at a low cost.
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a mechanic ballet where the pastoral and the industrial clash and depend on each other. The aesthetic machine is a contradictory means of expression and an end in itself. It is customized technology at the service of art, culture and politics.
Originally presented at “Mixed Feelings,” USC Fischer Gallery, Los Angeles, 2002. Now in the collection of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Original music made with gardening tools: Gabriela Ortiz. Hydraulic engineer and mechanics: Salvador “Chava” Muñoz. With the original participation of Jaime Alemán (vice president of ALAGLA). Thanks to Adrian Alvarez and ALAGLA (Association of Latin American Gardeners of Los Angeles).
Ruben Ortiz-Torres was born in Mexico City in 1964. Educated within the utopian models of republican Spanish anarchism soon confronted the tragedies and cultural clashes of post colonial third world. After giving up the dream of playing baseball in the major leagues he decided to study art. He went first to the oldest and one of the most academic art schools of the Americas (the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City) and later to one of the newest and more experimental (Calarts in Valencia CA). After enduring Mexico City's earthquake and pollution he moved to LA with a Fullbright grant to survive riots, fires, floods, more earthquakes, and proposition 187. During all this he has been able to produce artwork in the form of paintings, photographs, objects, installations, videos, and films. He is part of the permanent Faculty of the University of California in San Diego. He has participated in several international exhibitions and film festivals. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid Spain and others.