The exhibition Santa Cruz is constructed visually from various elements, many from the universe of skateboarding. The name of this solo show is not only a reference to the greatest symbol of Catholicism, but also to one of the principal brands of skateboards, idolized in 1980s and 90s by adolescent skateboarders all over the world. However, the theme investigated here is not exactly skateboarding, but the way in which this urban culture transmits and forms attitudes and aesthetics, here transformed into metaphors of life itself. The works of Santa Cruz comment upon neuroses related to sex, violence, and solitude, and speak of the continual trial-and-error involved in being authentic in a system that cultivates materialism and frivolity.
Santa Cruz presents drawings, objects, a painting, and photographs. The animals, in ink, form the series Family – Los animales que no me dejan dormir (“Family—The animals that don’t let me sleep”), which refer to the artist’s high school days, when he already made such drawings. Redone as an adult, these drawings represent members of a hypothetical family, adorned with phallic and ornate elements, which illustrate a certain revenge upon awful fantasies and fears that surround family relations. In the painting, a tiger stands out, powerfully imposing itself upon a genealogical tree of domesticated dogs, symbolizing an entire family which carries heavy crosses of guilt and twisted affections. The feline figure, quite present in general, also has a relation to popular drawings that decorate the cabs of trucks in Peru.
A curious object draws attention in the exhibition: a stainless steel bar with a small black knapsack hanging from it, imprinted with a white hospital cross, reminiscent of a first aid kit. The knapsack is emblematic of a lifesaver for our nomadic youth that lives with an intense mobility of time and space (real or virtual.) As with skateboarding, the knapsack also has to do with displacement and cities, and with a foreigner’s own situation of constantly being in transit. The stainless steel bar could be the fixed, solid counterpoint, even if temporary, in a situation of displacements. For the artist, this shining material is also seen as a symbol of big cities, of technology in architecture, of globalization.
Skateboarding appears as a more literal reference in two boards covered with sandpaper and sewing, which also exhibit crosses in hospital coloring. These pieces are basically concerned with causing alienation over what would be an ordinary object—a common practice in Stockholm’s works.
The photographs contrast current and old images, suspending and freezing movements. In these works in general, people and animals, fantasy and reality blend into each other, and in this fusion of the human with the wild animal lies, for Stockholm, the possibility of constructing a stronger person, decisive and free of neurosis and guilt.
Daniela Labra / Translated by Daniel Horch
Sao Paulo, June 2005