Guatemalan artist Dario Escobar’s Obverse and Reverse installation includes scores of soccer balls grouped together and mounted on walls or hanging from the ceiling. Take a closer look and you will see that the balls have been turned inside out. These sleek black and white forms are reversed to reveal their stitching and textured leather interior. Threads hang from each individual ball’s seams, like so many cobwebs, moving in the air currents.
If Catholicism and its visual narratives were once dominant societal unifiers in Guatemala, Escobar offers a modern alternative with these groups of soccer balls that multiply across space. Soccer is what gathers people together on Sundays, makes them assemble in joint cheer, and ignites passion. Soccer, for so many, is religion.
Escobar’s work often combines the present and the past in interesting confrontations. He looks for ways to show how the artistic experience of Guatemala’s history and its religious symbols are related to or overlap with the visual culture of today. Skateboards, ping-pong rackets, and baseball bats are covered with silver to look like religious reliquaries. Rubber bicycle tires snake across long spaces referencing a pre-Hispanic mythological creature. Soccer balls are a frequent material in his body of work – a familiar object altered. These conglomerations, repurposed and reconfigured, make us look at mass produced objects anew. Escobar’s singular sculptures and room size installations are persistently calling attention to those threads that bring us together and make us who we are.
Dario Escobar (b. 1971) lives and works in Guatemala City.