Francesc Ruiz has undertaken extensive research into the history of comic books, particularly in relation to issues of subculture, social class and sexuality in different cultural contexts.
For this new project titled The Street, Ruiz has been interested in creating narratives that imagine a commercial street as a comic in which every shop window acts as one panel of a comic strip. He has taken inspiration from an actual comic called Danny the Street from the DC Universe, in which the main protagonist is actually the multiplicity of a street, named Danny, rather than an individual person. In the original comic, Danny is male and cross-dresses. His footpaths are lined with various hyper-masculine stores, such as gun shops and sporting goods, which are decorated with frilly pink curtains and lace. While Danny cannot speak in any normal sense, he communicates via such means as signs in windows, type-written messages and letters formed out of broken glass shards. He speaks Polari, a largely antiquated form of slang spoken predominantly among gay subcultures in Britain.
For The Street, Ruiz has created an actual street façade based on his drawings. The Street seeks to portray the polyphony that can be discovered in many suburban centres in cosmopolitan cities. Places where we might see for example the halal butcher next to the charity shop, next to the Jehovah’s Witness centre, next to the Thai restaurant, next to the sex shop, next to the library, next to the church, next to the office of a political party, etc. But in the work, we will also see hints of the desires, aspirations and socio-economic realities that lie behind these surfaces. The Street considers the subject of cohabitation that is the central idea of a secular society.
Alongside The Street, Ruiz has made Pocket, a pocket-sized comic book which supplements the narrative of The Street. Distributed through different informal channels, the format of the booklet echoes those sometimes seen in different places around the world for a variety of purposes from propaganda to porn, health care guides or religious stories. Their small size making them cheap and easy to carry and distribute through discreet means. Pocket expands the narrative of The Street and is also used as a mean to disseminate instructions on how to find the work.
Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2017
WheredoIendandyoubegin – On Secularity
9 September – 19 November 2017