For Alan Ruiz, research and sculpture are equally useful forms of investigation. His work explores issues of access, infrastructure, and transparency in terms of the built environment—from architecture to real estate to tax codes to power grids. The work itself ranges from minimalist objects and installations to discursive talks and texts; all are apiece within a practice Ruiz describes as fundamentally project driven.
Ruiz was drawn to Chinati by the legacy of Donald Judd as it generally pertains to the “immaterial assets of light, space, and air,” he stated. Ruiz also had a specific project in mind: using the archives. He intended to research and respond to Dan Flavin’s untitled (Marfa Project) (1996) as an architectural system. “It is possible he would have disliked my reading of his work,” Ruiz said in the public talk that ensued, respectful of Flavin’s determination that his colored-light installations appear self-evident. Ruiz went on to plug Flavin’s installation at Chinati directly into Texas’s intrastate electric grid, which is federally unregulated and in 2021 failed spectacularly, among other networks of power and ideas. Ruiz’s talk “Ambient Conditions of Everyday Life” is recorded and available as an online program.
At his open studio installation, Ruiz showed a different project that developed on the ground during his residency. Gathered from public records in the Presidio County courthouse, grids of raw data represented the impact of the 2017 “adobe tax” on local property values. Also on view were sculptural panels of 5V crimp metal roofing—a popular material for new construction with an old-timey look—that hung on tracks, like sliding doors. The installation abstracted economic and architectural constructs of gentrification in Marfa with elegant thoughtfulness and restraint.
Alan Ruiz (born 1984 in Mexico City, Mexico; lives in Brooklyn, New York) received an MFA from Yale University and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program. In 2019, he was awarded a Creative Capital Grant for Spatial Alchemy, an ongoing research project, which he has advanced through Movement Research Performance Journal #54, which he edited in 2020; his 2021 exhibition at The Kitchen, New York; and his 2022 installation at Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. He is the recipient of a 2022 NYSCA/NYFA grant in architecture.