Carried out initially in the spaces of the University Gallery with a satellite exhibition in the Harn Museum of Art, both of which belong to the University of Florida in Gainesville, before its presentation in the Frost Art Museum in Miami, the structure of the exhibition centers on idea of displaying the Obregón Archive by dividing it into cabinets, each of which presents works related to one of the real, unique and specific roses used by the artist, which we decided to show; it works for our purposes as a sort of mirror of his strategies. Accumulating, classifying, preserving, and exhibiting are, in fact, actions that characterize his program and show his obsession in creating a language and a system so entirely his own that it would only make sense if read within its own logic. In this set of works, we can appreciate the systematic repetition of the same procedure that consisted in collecting the roses, dissecting each one of them into its constituent parts, meticulously ordering them while preserving them with the zeal of a conservator to, finally, leave them arranged to be exhibited in an innumerable diversity of formats and techniques, including drawings, paintings, sketches, collages, photographs, manipulated photocopies, notebooks, books, and other unclassifiable objects.
Accumulate, Classify, Preserve, and Exhibit are also the actions that an art institution (read: museum) inevitably resorts to in dealing with treasured objects. This is how the exhibition, curated jointly by Kaira M. Cabañas and myself, aspires to preserve the symbolic integrity and unity of the items that make up the archive, but at the same time to dissect it, recognizing that collecting and curating are analytical tools that inevitably alter their object of study. We thus set about the task of organizing the archive based on the exhibition structured around the discovery mentioned above, which allowed us to establish a series of curatorial criteria with resonance and affinity to Obregon's thought and research—embodied in his legacy—to show how it opens up various avenues for aesthetic reflection and critical thinking, from the relationship with nature to systems of representation.
With this approach, we want to highlight the complexities of a work that challenges both artistic and aesthetic notions through its formal refinement—in opposition to a language inflected by the aridity of taxonomy—and through the way it deconstructs the sentimental charge of the rose and transfigures it into a mortuary symbol. In this text, we will also stress how Obregón's practice is a convincing instance of how the visual arts contribute in a subtle but categorical way to the fabric of divergent stories.