Biennale of Sydney

Jose Dávila

Jose Dávila

Jose Dávila

Born 1974 in Guadalajara, Mexico
Lives and works in Guadalajara


Jose Dávila’s work is a constant search for moments of shared reciprocity between paradoxical elements. By means of a structural intuition, Dávila produces constructive situations in which tension and stillness, geometric order and random chaos, fragility and resistance, are fluctuating commonplaces for materials in continuous transformation. Based on the specificity of the materials that he uses, Dávila highlights their inherent contradictions, pushing the boundaries of perception in order to challenge the relation between form and content.

For the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Jose Dávila presents a group of works belonging to his ‘Joint Effort’ series. These sculptures consist of glass, balanced by lithic counterweights to achieve free-standing dispositions. The works can be understood as hybrid structural systems, which allow the coexistence of contradictory magnitudes: the fragility of the glass is complemented by the solidity of the stone; the ratchet straps that hold the different objects together provide flexibility and malleable support; the translucent quality of the glass enables the exhibition space to merge together with the sculptural object.

Through these sculptures, Dávila embraces fragility as a way to reveal the internal interactions of matter; the apparent static state of the composition conceals a series of physical events that are actively taking place for the sculpture to maintain its shape. This constructive ethos proposes a material-oriented perspective, fracturing the common attitude in which materials are unilaterally transformed by human intervention, becoming a perfect reflection of concepts and ideas. As a result of this, the relationship between form and content staggers leaving objects to overflow with their own attributes and qualities.

Dávila creates these sculptures in situ at Cockatoo Island. Gathering local materials around Sydney and its peripheries, the finished works develop a dialogue between the natural world and the geography of the city, its cultural history and the social interactions that are contextualised there. Through a display of opposing forces, Dávila blends together raw organic materials and industrial objects to produce a material tension, which can function as a metaphoric depiction of social tension and confrontation.

One of the main concerns of the project comprises the physical characteristics of the exhibition territory and the lithic bodies that inhabit it. Considering this, Dávila’s work puts into perspective the present and the future of the place it occurs, thus generating an intersection that encompasses various material temporalities, re-enacting a cyclical relationship between human production and the tectonic and geothermal activity that created the raw materials, through which the work comes into being.

Exhibited at

Exhibited Artwork

Jose Dávila, The Act of Perseverance, 2020, site-specific mixed-media installation with found materials from Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney Courtesy of the artist and König Galerie, Berlin.

Photograph: Jose Dávila, The Act of Perseverance, site specific mixed media installation with found materials from Cockatoo Island, dimensions variable. Installation progress view, detail (2020) for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist

Location: Cockatoo Island