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Artist Statement


|   Statement
Statement | Within the Gaze - Tony Vázquez-Figueroa | artmedia GALLERY - Miami FL - 305
Pure Oil, Original advertising published by Pure Oil Company, 1957

“Within the Gaze” is part of an extensive work that tries to understand a couple of things at the same time.

One, how advertisers —then and now, as the wielding hand of corporations or other powerful organizations— shape the “Image” and impose a brilliantly constructed gaze to manipulate consent. And two, how in a very particular case, the peculiar Venezuela of the oil boom, decades before and shortly after I was born, this shaped image of the country was imposed upon us. I believe it distorted our perception of ourselves and thus, eventually, as with everything imposed, we rebelled against it without knowing we were also rebelling against ourselves. We had become again, to a degree, the projections of foreigners pretty much repeating the story of the colonial Venezuela and the utopian ideals of those times when our sites were named after projections of the Europeans.

Formally, in this body of work we see two things. First, the clear thing: at the front, the ad showing us an apparently “clean image,” an “enjoyable” and sometimes “beautiful” image. Secondly, we see in transparency, superimposed, the reverse of the page: a phantom that brings a gaze to the whole scene ?either from a real person or from the idea of a person? that automatically breaks with the suspension of disbelief and brings the full front image to a kind of collapse. Only at this juncture, we can see more clearly through the strategies and through the house of mirrors how front image has been constructed as a gaze itself; the manipulations become self-evident, and the irony within the gaze is finally uncovered.

We were the “exotic,” the “colorful,” the “sexual,” the new “Spanish man,” but also the embodiment of a new kind of “progress,” a new prosperous “neighbor” with the means to purchase whatever the rest of the world had to offer... Our progress was “'el Buen Salvaje' with a large wallet” for the foreign eyes of the 20th century. Now, we are at a most crucial juncture, as I write this today there is a major pacific manifestation in the city of Caracas that is trying to reach a tipping point in our history. Today might be The Day that triggers a new gaze, a new way to see ourselves, a new way the world will see us. Today, after the highest of heights of the 70’s and 80’s, after the lowest lows of the current times, Venezuela might find a well-deserved balance, a well-deserved peace.