Rodrigo Valenzuela’s Posthuman Ruins

Emily Pothast
Form and Resonance
Published in
2 min readOct 29, 2021

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Rodrigo Valenzuela, Afterwork #4. Silver Gelatin Print, 2021. 40 x 32 in.

My first encounter with Rodrigo Valenzuela’s work was through his video works like Diamond Box (2012–2013), in which the artist paid undocumented migrant workers an hourly rate to tell their stories for the camera. A Chilean-born artist who illegally worked as a day laborer before earning his MFA from the University of Washington, Valenzuela saw his own experiences reflected in the voices of these workers—a familiarity that imbues these works with a sympathetic resonance.

The workers are conspicuously absent from his new body of photographs. Currently on view at Euqinom Gallery in San Francisco, Valenzuela’s New Works for a Post-Worker’s World focuses instead on staged photographic tableaus that resemble the modernist ruins of a decommissioned factory. Each of these photographs was taken from the same angle in his studio with the same exposure. In each image, a sense of depth and visual rhythm is created by nesting a photographic print within the photo, so that the same parts appear to repeat in space. In many cases, the line where the photographic print meets the “real” space is shrouded by white fog.

Rodrigo Valenzuela, Afterwork #12. Silver Gelatin Print, 2021. 40 x 32 in.

In interviews about this work, Valenzuela speaks about the value of science fiction in…

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Emily Pothast
Form and Resonance

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. emilypothast.com