Nicolas Mastracchio – Dark Object of Desire

No. 39 – Buenos Aires, June 2007

At the age of twenty, he manages to stand out from the current art scene with an installation and photographs. Laura Batkis went through the excessive accumulation of images and objects, only to find him and talk.

The installation Oscuro objeto del deseo (Dark Object of Desire), which Nicolás Mastracchio is exhibiting at Appetite Gallery, is a journey that invites the viewer to experience the consumerist intensity of today’s man, all the way from his childhood to adulthood. He has participated in two editions of Currículum 0 and has just exhibited his photos at arteBA fair (Buenos Aires). During our talk he tells us how he devised this exhibition where fatality appears to be a trap of desire lost in the yearning for power.

How did you conceive Oscuro objeto de deseo?  

From the arrangement of a library, a chair and a piece of furniture. The piece of furniture falls and the white chair is sort of holding it. And this was the first idea I had for the show, that subtle balance that barely manages to support everything.

This installation is like a story, with narrative sequences. 

Yes, it is the life of the same person from birth to forty years old, describing what it is like through the material objects he consumes, in 4 spaces: child, adolescent, university student and adult.

The first space of the installation is the room of a child, who is between 5 and 7 years old. It is a play day.

I tried to put myself in that moment when I was that age and I was playing on a Saturday morning at home before everyone woke up, and I had a great time, although I didn’t want to do a mandatory self-referential reading. It’s a violent game, a slaughter of carnivorous animals and characters from comic books or cartoon movies. For example, a painted basketball, that looks like fun, causes a sensation of untidiness, but at the same time has a visual, aesthetic look. A chair full of green boogers. The wall is full of Truco (a typical Argentine card game), High School Musical, dinosaur and Power Ranger cards. And in the middle of all this, a poster of The Simpsons and a photo of “The Last Supper” in Lego toys. A religious motif that is repeated on a table that comes immediately after in the other scene of the room.

Why The Simpsons? 

Because of the simultaneity, many things happening at the same time. Besides, it speaks about this kind of family. They are having breakfast, but each one is doing something different.

The teenager’s space is wallpapered with a metallic blue, pictures of Nike shoes. A bicycle that is unhooked, skis, a tent, and a hockey stick. A closet for storing dirty clothes from which wrinkled shirts come out and penetrate a basketball hoop. 

What does the teenager consume?

It starts with the brands. On the wall there’s a blonde girl with a T-shirt that says Nike, it’s the jerk-off part of the thirteen-year-old boy that starts with a masturbatory thing.

It’s an imaginary of somewhat absurd things…

Of course, like the shelf located at four meters high with a plant, which being so high cannot be watered, or the table in the same situation. 

The inhabitant of this exhibition begins to consume since he is young: the chewing gums, the figurines, the cards. To eat, to consume. There are pills on the table, it’s an insinuation that he has to start stimulating himself, doping. Gatorade bottles and drug consumption starts.

Has to be stimulated….

Yes, and take drugs. 

Let’s move on to another scene from the show. There is a table of a kind of “Last Supper 2007 version”. A long table, with 13 plates containing images of Nike, Bart Simpsons, Björk, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Mario Bross, Eminen, Mc Donald’s, marijuana leaf, ecstasy, two planes that refer to the Twin Towers, the two Tattoo girls and an iPhone over Mac’s bitten apple. 

The photo of the iPhone on the apple of Mac represents the communication, it’s a telephone that has not come out for sale yet. The photo was taken by me, it is in the center as if it were Christ, in some way. 

The table is held by two televisions, and below there is a super Nintendo. Naturally, when the teenage viewers come in, they start playing sitting under a poster stuck to the table with the image of Christ on it that reads: “Look at me and I will be with you”. 

In your version of the Last Supper, are they all celebrity characters? 

Yes, they are characters or images that come from TV. In one of the monitors that holds the table there is a channel zapping that I recorded from the TV, and that starts with the movie The Fighting Club, starred by Brad Pitt, and tells the story of a guy that is an office worker, buys everything in a catalog and ends up going crazy. He changes and goes against the system and knocks down a building that has all the bank accounts of the people of the United States. He changes, but still has the same crazy passion. Like the character in my show. He lives moments of intensity all the time.

Tell me how you imagine the character from your show. 

Middle – high social class, because of the brands he consumes. 

We arrive at the environment of the university student, who is twenty years old. Carpet floor, a curtain with plastic beads. A bit kitschy, dark atmosphere, like some bars at night. 

The character begins to approach his darkest place. There is an upside down desk painted yellow, with different situations. Stella Artois and Heineken beer bottles, leaning, as if after an intimate party with few people who drank a lot, cigarette butts, boxes of Camel cigarettes, cans of Quilmes beer, ashes.

There is also a drawer with notes and many pencils that are penetrating the drawer. Condoms hanging out, and a mirror with leopard cloth. It shows that he is beginning to consume pornography and doesn’t mind letting it show. In another piece of furniture there is a glass, a black light and a scale with a mirror and some silver ceramics. It is a cocaine altar.

Finally, we move on to the stage of the forty-year-old adult. It is an office full of spreadsheets with numbers, cables, computers, and desire fetishes are more linked to economic power. There are shelves with gilt-painted objects like the Dolce Gabana V3 cell phone, a “modern marketing” book, and the photo of diamond dental sleeves. And a disturbing piece of furniture with knives stuck in it. 

It’s the idea of mutilation, of self-destruction, of this man stabbing himself with his own knives, but well… the idea is already in the office, that destruction and mess that is something that happens on the inside of the character who has some kind of pain, of which he is not aware. He can’t take it anymore. 

At the last dinner where the installation of the show begins, it is the moment before the passion, the unleashing of the catastrophe. And what follows is like the documentation of the personal tragedy of a life.

What is an important part for you that is key in the interpretation of your work? 

The phrase on Christ’s poster: “Look at me and I will be with you”, because it summarizes what contemporary art is today.