White Cube

On entering Damien Ortega’s darkened exhibition space I found nine elf projectors. The 16 mm films were of bricks lined up like dominos and pushed over causing the next brick stood up on end to fall over and knock over the next until they had all fallen down.

The sound of the projectors and the audio of the bricks falling transported me back to watching footage of World War II bomb blasted buildings being destroyed. The clatter of bricks falling, the sadness of a home lost, the rapid clicking of the projectors.

Ortega’s work refers to the nine grounds of battle listed by Sun Tzu’s in ‘The Art of War’. The nine films don’t illustrate Sun Tzu’s nine grounds, but allow you draw parallels between the bricks and soldiers. The bricks, not the conventional red bricks, were creamy thinner bricks slightly hollow giving a more musical clonk as they toppled over. They all fall over in the end, even if you have to wait a while. Their military formation like an army varies depending on the terrain. It is an inescapable chain reaction – a spiralling decline in one. Sun Tzu incidentally believes that winning without a fight is the best outcome.

Ortega’s ‘Nine Kinds of Terrain’ is a humorous, systematic piece that makes you think about the futility of military engagement.