Blog / “The Record” inspires Dario Robleto


By Wendy

When I was 2 months old, my father went to fly airplanes in Vietnam. My mother and I moved in with her parents in New Jersey.  I remember the white chenille bedspread in her childhood bedroom. She bought the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album and played it over and over on her old record player.

Fast-forward 19 years: I bought a 6-foot-high poster of the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and hung it over my bed in college.

Fast-forward 23 more years: Last night, my 10-year-old was listening to Sgt. Pepper’s on her iPod when I kissed her goodnight. I did not even know she had downloaded it.

Maybe the records our parents play when we are small burn themselves into the grooves of our brains.

The cross-generational, and maybe even subliminal, influence of music is one of the main ideas behind Dario Robleto: The Minor Chords Are Ours, a solo exhibition opening Saturday at D’Amelio Terras Gallery in New York. Nasher Museum visitors know (and love) Texas-based artist Dario Robleto’s work from the museum’s permanent collection and, most recently,  The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl.  One of his sculptures will be part of Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions, opening at the Nasher Museum March 10.

The Record had some influence on Dario’s new solo exhibition, it turns out. The vinyl records belonging to Dario’s mother and grandmother, and his own record collection, are source material for the works in the exhibition.

“This body of work asks the question: How do familial music choices, made before you were born, set the tone for the rest of your life?” as the gallery’s press release puts it. “And how is this sensibility handed down, perhaps subconsciously, through each succeeding generation?

Dario’s mother played Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette records, among others, while pregnant with him.

“Perhaps we have no choice at all in who we become because of moments like that,” Dario wrote in an email. “I mean, is it any coincidence I’ve become what I’ve become when I had to listen to honky-tonk over and over in utero?”

The image above is from a C-print entitled, “Candles Un-burn, Suns Un-shine, Death Un-dies.” Thousands of lights shine together, each one a stage light extracted from the album covers of Marvin Gaye, Patsy Cline, Bob Marley and other musicians who have passed away.

“It’s modeled after the Hubble’s ‘Deep Field’ images,” Dario said, by email, “which are the earliest images of the known universe when the very first stars were just beginning to flicker into existence.”

The official press release follows:

Dario Robleto: The Minor Chords Are Ours

February 26 – April 16, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday, February 26, 6-8 pm

D’Amelio Terras is pleased to present The Minor Chords Are Ours, its second solo exhibition with Dario Robleto. In recent years, Robleto’s handcrafted sculptures have integrated a variety of historical objects to explore themes of war, mourning, and the fragile relationship between humans and the natural environment.  In The Minor Chords Are Ours, Robleto returns to a material essential to his earlier work: the vinyl record.  Records have long been used as a means of artistic expression for many contemporary artists, as the exhibition The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, which features Robleto’s work, testifies to. Trevor Schoonmaker writes in the catalogue essay, “Artists…engage with records in many ways: as performance or critique, icon, document or archive, artifact, metaphor, portrait, or transcendent object.”[1]
For Robleto, the material of the vinyl record and the graphics of album covers allows him to explore a universal musical culture and the ways in which our experiences of music shape our identity. This body of work asks the question: How do familial music choices, made before you were born, set the tone for the rest of your life? And how is this sensibility handed down, perhaps subconsciously, through each succeeding generation? Robleto acknowledges the influence of others’ musical choices on ones own identity, as he works mostly from his personal, his mother’s and his grandmother’s music collection as both physical and conceptual source material, but also suggesting a similar story can be told from everyone’s familial musical lineage. Working from this multigenerational perspective, Robleto samples a collective musical heritage as he melts down vinyl discs and excerpts or erases imagery from album covers. Stripped of specific reference to performers, the album covers and other ephemera are reworked into encrypted ciphers while the melted vinyl takes new symbolic forms. Also extending his interest in mourning traditions, these works reflect on death from an unusual perspective – the loss of a band member, a favorite artist, and even the slow death of the album itself.  Like the vinyl’s permanently pressed spiral groove that persists as a map of once realized melodic potential, Robleto’s works take on a new state of being while remaining carriers of a shared history.

Dario Robleto is currently featured in the solo exhibition An Instinct Toward Life, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver from February 4 through May 15, 2011. He is also featured in group exhibitions The Spectacular of Vernacular at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, and The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, NC.  This exhibition will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL and the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA.  Robleto has a forthcoming solo exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center in Des Moines, IA. Robleto’s work is included in numerous public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY among others.

For press and visuals requests please contact Trina Gordon
at 212.352.9460 or at  D’Amelio Terras shows Adam Adach, Polly Apfelbaum, Massimo Bartolini, Jedediah Caesar, Nicole Cherubini, Tony Feher, Roland Flexner, Joanne Greenbaum, Daniel Hesidence, Leslie Hewitt, Matt Keegan, John Morris, Robert Moskowitz, Rei Naito, Noguchi Rika, Demetrius Oliver, Cornelia Parker, Chloe Piene, Dario Robleto, Heather Rowe, Sam Samore, Karin Sander, Noah Sheldon, and Yoshihiro Suda.

IMAGE:  Dario Robleto, “Candles Un-burn, Suns Un-shine, Death Un-dies,” 2010. Digital C-print mounted on Sintra, a collection of stage lights taken from the album covers of live performances by now-deceased musicians. 46 x 65 ½ x 2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and D’Amelio Terras Gallery, New York.

Recent Posts

Visitor, Not Visitor

Posted By Mika Deshmukh

It’s the first day of my internship with the Nasher Museum’s Marketing and Communications… MORE