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Taylor Zakarin

Iván Navarro (Chilean, born 1972)
From Beginning to End, 2014
Neon lights, aluminum box, mirror, one-way mirror
62 1/8 x 36 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches
Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection


If you frequently walk the warm-tone concrete halls of NorthPark Center, then you are bound to remember the three wooden water towers on view between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. That installation, This Land is Your Land (which will eventually return to NorthPark) is a work by Chilean sculptor Iván Navarro. This Land is Your Land is currently on loan to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (which may or may not be where I went to college). Fortunately, we were able to install another work of Navarro’s in the shopping center – From Beginning to End. This work is on view in the Management Office, just down the hallway from Dillard’s and next to the Tesla store.

Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile. The artist grew up during the height of the reign of General Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship – an experience that has deeply informed his work. After attending art school during the transitional years of the country’s first two democratically elected presidents, the artist moved to New York City in 1997. It was in New York City where Navarro truly became aware of the extent of the human rights abuses in his home country, and began examining this in his work. Navarro also became familiarized with the work of minimalist and modernist artists such as Dan Flavin, Marcel Breuer, and Ellsworth Kelly. Ivan Navarro is internationally known for his sculptures composed of neon, fluorescent, and incandescent light. His work is socio-politically charged, from his “electric chair” series beginning with 2002’s You Sit, You Die, to the personal This Land is Your Land (mentioned above).

From Beginning to End is one of Navarro’s many illusionistic works. He creates a fictional space that resembles a window; however, instead of offering a view to the outside world, one sees the endless and infinite dimension of his neon design. When discussing a similar work, Navarro states, “I make spaces in a fictional way to deal with my own psychological anxiety.” Additionally, the artist’s use of light has interesting origins. When speaking at the Nasher Sculpture Center, he mentioned that Pinochet used to turn off the power in the cities as a way to control the people. As a result, light and electricity (or lack there of) is something that Navarro has always associated with power and control. Another facet of From Beginning to End that I have found interesting is the artist’s use of the two-way mirror – both as a symbol and as a material. To achieve the never-ending recession into space trompe l’oeil, Navarro places a normal mirror at the back of the work while the front panel of the piece is a two-way mirror. This way, we as viewers can look into the piece, and see the infinite reflections occurring back and forth between the two mirrors (creating that illusion that the window goes on forever). Of course, we are most familiar with two-way mirrors through our knowledge of police interrogation rooms, which again seems to have significance when considering the idea of the government and military control that Navarro is so frequently examining in his work. 

I hope you stop by the Management Office to check out this work – and look out for This Land is Your Land to return to NorthPark soon!