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Jimmie, Your Cheeks Will Never Lose Their Luster
11.4 x 6.4 x 3.8 cm (4 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 in.)
(San Antonio, Texas, 1972 - )
Medium and Support:
Dissolved magnetic audio tape, resin, hand-set amethyst crystals, and model paint
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase with funds from Melba Whatley, 2000; Gift from The Contemporary Austin to the Blanton Museum of Art, 2017
In this unexpected tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Dario Robleto turns sound into sculpture. Wrapping an amethyst geode in melted audiotape recordings of “Purple Haze,” Robleto pays homage to the rock star’s most iconic song and the dazzling nature of his guitar skills.
Robleto describes this work as emerging from a desire to translate “the skills and logic of DJ culture into the sculptural realm.” Here, he quite literally applies a DJ’s techniques to art-making—from song selection to scratching, cutting, sequencing, mixing, and most importantly, sampling. For Robleto, sampling is not just a technique, but a philosophy: “Sampling was quite a liberating and radical idea to me at the time—it revealed to me that with the right care and attention, anything, even the scraps and trash of the world, contained whole other creative universes waiting to be birthed.” Through his early melted vinyl and audiotape works, Robleto gave sensuous form to the intangible emotional effects of music that exist beyond sound.
From the artist:
"There is a very personal dimension to the work as well, based on a childhood memory. The piece was made to acknowledge this moment in a way I was not yet equipped to as a child. I had a friend in elementary school named Jimmie who I was quite close to. In those years there was no way for either of us to put a name to why he was “different.” He was effeminate and kind—all the things most tough young boys were trying hard not to be. He was also very pale-skinned and blushed incredibly easily. We connected through geology, fossils, and music—especially his love of Jimi Hendrix. The fact that he had the same name, although spelled differently, as one of his musical heroes was a constant source of fun to us both. Later in life he would come out to me, although we knew long before without saying so.
One day in gym class, he was being mercilessly picked on during basketball for not wanting to take his shirt off in the “skins and shirts” game. Because of my sticking up for him that day, I was punched hard in the face by another kid. With a bloody lip and swollen cheek, I was sent to the principal’s office with Jimmie and the other kid. I remember sitting there with Jimmie waiting to go into the principal’s office, his cheeks as red as I had ever seen them, and us making fun of the fact that mine were now as red as his. It is one of the sweetest memories I have—two kids trying to find some humor in a situation we both knew was more than we could yet comprehend. This piece, and the title, were made and written to acknowledge that: Jimmie, your cheeks will never lose their luster."