A three-channel video installation shot in Tepoztlan, Mexico, Miguel Angel Ríos’s A morir (To the Death), 2003, focuses on a popular street game called trompos that involves spinning tops. Viewed from multiple perspectives, the video begins with one spinning top and culminates in a cacophonous profusion of numerous black tops in a single game that includes 30 of the most skilled trompos players in town (ages 14 to 50).
With his documentation of this simple scenario, Ríos signals dynamics of congestion, competition, and territorialism both visually and aurally. The lyrical movement of the tops is accompanied by their intense, syncopating sound and a backdrop of street noise. Confined within a small white grid painted on a dark surface resembling asphalt, A morir (To the Death) negotiates both politics and poetics in its abstract narrative about urban sprawl, aggression, invasion, and war.
Born in Argentina in 1943, Miguel Angel Ríos lives and works in New York City and Mexico City. He studied at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires and has taught at the National University of Tucuman and the National University of Buenos Aires. He received the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1998.
Miguel Angel Ríos: “A morir (To the Death)” is made possible by the Seymour and Carol Levin Foundation.
Image courtesy of the artist and Sicardi Gallery.