The exhibition Arxiu J.R. Plaza brings together, for the first time, the works created by artist Iñaki Bonillas (Mexico City, 1981) since 2003, based on the different uses he has given to the mainly photographic archive that he inherited from his maternal grandfather, José María Rodríguez Plaza, an amateur photographer who took up the task of amassing the visual history of his family – an undertaking spanning more than a half-century of images carefully grouped into 30 folders and quite a few boxes of slides – in which, curiously enough, Plaza himself was the indisputable central figure.
Throughout the years, Bonillas has managed to submit this rich material to a wide range of operations – embedded in a constant generative logic of unfolding – that has allowed him to combine elements that initially seem incompatible: on one hand, a personal, biographical narrative made of anecdotes and notes of a rather private nature; and on the other hand, a systematising urge – undoubtedly inspired by the early conceptual practices that Bonillas has been avidly attached to – by which he manages to give the appearance of methodical neutrality to all his different approaches to this archive, whose immensity seems to have awakened in him the wish of ultimately exhausting all its possible passages, connections and variants. And it is precisely the idea of the archive as an inextinguishable source that has led Bonillas to delve into a sort of ars combinatoria, out of which all the 20 works shown here have sprung.
The exhibition hence provides a unique opportunity to get closer to the full spectrum of Bonillas’s investigations with J.R. Plaza Archive: from the very first attempts, where the artist dealt with the diverse ways in which the pages of the albums that comprise the archive could be displayed; to the most recent exercises, in which the images have lost their family-related character to become starting points for broader reflection on the nature of transmissibility – according to Walter Benjamin, the main trait of any collection – of an archive with these characteristics. Therefore, it aims to give new meaning to this vast material. Not just once, but many times. And not with order, but intermittently, always updating it and inserting it into plurivocal works: the archive seen not as a mausoleum of the obsolete, but as a potential space for duplication.