Raphael Montañez O.
See images of Work

Destruction Room
233.7 x 439.4 x 294.6 cm
Destruction of strange furniture and objects with participation from the audience

Monument to Buchenwald
76.2 x 71.1 x 17.8 cm
Paper, mud, burnt shoes and black paint on wooden surface

Orgy of Prayer
83.8 x 91.4 cm
Pressed candles, black paint and card board

Petrified Forest #1
Dried plums nailed into to layers of card board

Nailed Marshmallows
4.5 x 18.5 x 17 7/8 inches
Box: 7 1/8 x 19 1/4 x 19 inches
Burnt marshmallows nailed on wooden backing


C-Print Ralph Ortíz, Piano Destruction Concert, New York City, 1967
The Destructivist Manifesto, Ralph Ortiz. 1957-1962. (Manuscript, 4 pages)
C-print: 9.96 x 7.99 inches
Destructivism. A Manifesto: 10.24 x 8.5 inches
The Destructivist Manifesto: 9.92 x 7.99 inches e/sheet

C-Print, Piano Destruction, NYC, c.1967. Detail # 11 (Signed on the back)

Vintage print: Destruction Theater, 1969, Hollywood, CA. at Ace Gallery 1969
(Photograph by Irwin Glaser)

Vintage Print: Henny Penny Piano Destruction, New York City, 1967

Piano destruction concert: Dada con Mama (Installation)
Inverted piano, axes,wood,metal,plastic and kosher salt
Varied dimensions

In both an artistic and intellectual sense, his work has been driven by research and reflection on a timeless subject: the violence and destruction inherent to humanity itself. As one of the pioneers and representatives of Destruc-tion art within avant-garde movements, and in the present, he has focused on studying and stimulating multiple sensorial levels through which we recog-nize our own impulses towards aggression or destructive acts.
The concept of Ritual-theater has been important in his artistic output since the early 1960s. It involves staging violence through real acts that appeal to the equally real emotions of a live audience; that is, the action and the public’s reaction occur simultaneously. The art of destruction as rep-resented by Montañez is the dramatization of a commonplace destruction, one we experience on an everyday basis.
Dada con Mama (Dada with Mama) is a piano and destruction concert, presented in Mexico only once within the framework of this exhibition. With this piece, the artist continues a line of work emerging from the spirituality of his cultural past, as his Yaqui roots are linked to his productive process. The title is drawn, first of all, from Dada’s proximity to the idea of a collec-tive ritual spirit close to artistic creation; to a sacrificial staging that transpires in the present and reflects on humanity’s average here-and-now. Second of all, Mama alludes to a spiritual influence and occult ritual ele-ments based on the conception of and relationship with the natural state of things. These actions destroy a structure and then restore it to an original state; here, destruction is defined as reconciliation with the natural.
His work does not respond to a solely visual result. Indeed, the destroyed piano installation is the mark left by the entire action. The piece’s essence is the demonstration of a transformative process. These actions correspond to an objective gaze fixed on the individual himself and the most archaic aspects of his condition; for Raphael Montañez Ortiz, all societal communi-cation is exposed to a higher level of containment and control.


New York, United States, 1934.
Lives and works in New Jersey, United State.

Ritual, coincidence, duality, transcendence, humanism, performance, gesture, religion and history are only a few of the subjects that the artist has addressed through his works. From the beginning of his career, perhaps his most important concern was avant-garde practice. He worked on the margins of cultural production, creating art from non-art objects, such as domestic items, which he would unmake in a process of (de)construction. While he was interested in avant-garde movements such as Dada and Fluxus, readings in psychology and anthropology influenced him most and acted as the link between his early Archaeological Finds series and his interest in the perceptions of the unconscious mind.

Ortiz incorporated indigenous elements to the process of deconstruction, underscoring his awareness of indigenous cultural practice and its possibilities as a model for contemporary aesthetics. In the creation of his earliest film works from the late 1950s, he hacks a film into pieces while chanting. Placing the pieces into a medicine bag, he then arbitrarily removed each piece and spliced them together in a completely random fashion. In his film work from the early 1980s, the artist used an Apple computer hooked up to a laser disc player. He scratched the laser disc, creating a stammering image, and a disconnection between time and space.

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