Uruguayan artist Emilio Bianchic returns to Postmasters for his solo exhibition ooh la la. Working with artificial nails, video, and performance, Bianchic unpacks the manufacturing of identity in domestic, intimate, and corporeal spaces. In the summer of 2015, Bianchic’s exhibition of video art at Postmasters was lauded as one of the most memorable exhibitions of the year, and he recently debuted a series of videos with his collective Básica TV at NADA New York.
Una fiesta del error, which literally translates to “a party of error,” is the artist’s phrase to describe the absurdist, whimsical humor found in the videos, photographs, and installations comprising the exhibition. There are no mistakes, though, even if Bianchic is obsessed with doing things the “wrong” way – or, at least not how one would expect them to be done. It’s how he arrived at performing with his feet. Since we do everything with our hands, why not flip the expected on its head, literally, and try everything with our feet instead?
Fashion Number One Rule Number Rule Number One (or FNORNRNO for short!), the centerpiece of the exhibition, follows the life of a fashionite and singer, played by none other than Bianchic’s feet, wearing fabulously long nails. Cropped so that we only see from the knees down, all of human gesture is distilled into these extremities: After sex, two sets of feet lay in bed together, passing a cigarette between their toes; during the performer’s court ruling for copyright infringement, various sets of slack wearing legs tap their feet assertively while presenting evidence, and the judge wears black high heels with a gavel tied to their foot. The narrative of copyright infringement is yet another impediment, like performing tasks with one’s feet – a limitation of possibility governed by arbitrary rules. Only by finding alternatives within these systems do we arrive at imaginative solutions: The singer becomes a DJ, finding a loophole in the jurisdiction.
Impráctica, displayed on a sculpturally augmented screen, is similarly about being limited. We see the artist’s hand, wearing hyperbolically long nails, laboriously, yet elegantly, attempting to screw in a light bulb in a variety of fixtures. This impractical and ineffective act is a queering of productive labor, working in opposition to the always on, always producing mentality of masculine neoliberal ideology, which is essentially a market-driven version of “survival of the fittest.”
Dollar store hauls adorn the monitors that play a number of Bianchic’s expertly shot videos, leveling out distinctions between high and low culture – a question of who decides what is tasteful or not. Pop and dance songs are the soundtrack of his life and work. Mistranslations of their lyrics, and other phrases throughout the exhibition, reinforce the notion that imperfection is an asset rather than a flaw. The show's title is one such example: “ooh la la” is a phrase we might stereotypically associate with Parisian culture. Currently based in Argentina, Bianchic is used to people confusing South American cultures, so he does the same by confusing his visit to New York with another Western metropolis. His videos and performances reference the culture of fashion, but not in a way that is characteristically sexy, adding another layer of absurdity to the joke.
Since 2013, Bianchic has been painting his and his friends nails, creating nail art tutorials as video art, and participating in online subcultures specific to nail care and art. His work was included in 89plus in 2013, and has since been exhibited extensively in South America and abroad. He is the recipient of the Young Video Artist award from LOOP Barcelona, and his work has been featured in artnet, ARTnews, Das Magazin, DIS, and Rhizome. In 2015, Bianchic became a member of UV Estudios, an artist run galley in Buenos Aires.