In his installations, wall drawings and objects, Jorge Méndez Blake navigates between literature, architecture and history. He has previously taken texts by Robert Louis Stevenson, Pablo Neruda, Arthur Conan Doyle, Franz Kafka, Karl Marx, Herman Melville and Jules Verne as points of departure for his works.
In his works, literary references and images are reframed to take on new resonance and invite new interpretations.
The wall drawing Untitled 2010 was inspired by an illustration by Émile-Antoine Bayard for Jules Verne’s short story, ‘Un drame dans les airs’, first published in 1851. This describes a hair-raising balloon flight with an uninvited passenger, who is intent on dropping the ballast and flying ever-higher. The protagonist must outwit the stowaway, with his irrational and potentially mortal desire for altitude; the latter, meanwhile, recounts the history of balloon travel, including landmark achievements and disasters. Méndez Blake here comments on the nineteenth-century European and North American literary genre of the adventure story as it was linked to colonial exploration, and to the ideology of progress as the advance of scientific knowledge.