My current work elaborates on spatial/textual/historical tensions that reveal contradictions between the represented and its representation, between the small personal anecdote and the grand historical narrative. My photography thus incarnates the failure of male socialization and the ways in which Latin America still conceives and applies power.
Between 1995-1998 I intervened crashed car pieces with photographic self-portraits holding my little girl. It was an attempt to challenge the archetypes at work in paintings like the Virgin with Child of Il Duccio de Buoninsegna, painted around the year 1300 A.C. , so abundant in catholic imagery.
The trashed car junk provided a most appropriatte showcase for masculine destructive powers, a reference to the Pantocratos "punishing god" (as oppossed to the all forgiving virgin Mary). Several of these pieces, including Toyota Corolla 92 (1996 and Taxi Year Unknown (1997), were exhibited at Body, Fragment Memory. In the catalog of this show, published by the Museum of Costa Rican Art in 1997.
The critic Vivianne Loria (current Lápiz Magazine collaborator) stated in that shows catalog: "In the Works by Jorge Albán, the image is diffused, hidden and enhanced as fragments on a metallic support, fragmented on it own. Sharp edges from the trashed car junk do not encourage tactile physical contact with the works, producing a sense of isolation that actually enhances the hieratic quality of the objects. Such paternal image explicitly comments on traditional religious iconography that embodies filial love around the Madonna figure. Going beyond the physiological reasons, Albán proposes a critical perspective of such problem, in a protective father figure taking the place of the Madonna, underscored in many pieces by the concave surface taken on by the bent metal background."
That same year, Efraim Hernandez, a highly regarded Costa Rican art historian wrote "Jorge Albán scrutinizes the issue of gender roles in the socio-family dimension, collecting images from art history which aptly project his individual perspective. He also explores aspects of social violence in his shocking works. The aggressive force of the technical-conceptual contrast provides a remarkable expressive unity to his work. His investigation of materials offers a new aspect in the medium and an example of perseverance that allows the artist to find and work the best materials to concretely express an idea."
These works were exhibited in the show Concentric Circles at La Nación Gallery, all of them in 1997. In 1998 five of these pieces traveled to Colombia and took part in the International Salon City and Art in the Medellín Museum of Contemporary Art. In 1999 the pieces Volkswagen Year Unknown III (1997) and Volkswagen Year Unknown (1996) took part in the exhibition Art of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Dawn of the 21st Century, organized by the Unesco in Paris. In 2001 the piece Bent Man (1996) was invited to be part of the show Images of Men, that took place in the Central Bank Museum.
In 1999 I moved from supplanting the female body, to appropriating a left-brain flow-of-thought, traditionally considered more feminine, and contrasting it to images of male domestic dysfunction. These works were exhibited at Photography and Engraving: Recent works by Costa Rican and Mexican Artists, that took place at The Rafael Angel Calderón Museum in 1999. And in EX3:Explore, Explote, Express at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in the year 2000.
Luis Fernando Quirós, art curator and designer wrote for the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design web page: "The impossible monologues deal with the construction of identity and peel-off the various layers that constitute contemporary masculinity. the artist emphasizes a game-like relationship between image and text, and the way the former resists being verbalized in order to enhance the denied nature of the sensorial experience. The Words series, play with opposites and make use of the representative power in popular macho semantic constructions, such as Inocentonto (playing the safe and dumb) or Malamansado (badly-tamed). Wrapped in jelly textured blue color, these words are juxtaposed to sepia backgrounds that embody the contradictions of male identity in contemporary society (…). His is an emerging conceptual art voice with an acute perception of what is to come."
This series were recently included as part of Mundos Creados: Latin American Constructed Photography, main exhibit at The Noorderlicht Photofestival 2002, in the Netherlands. ...