Collection Spotlight: Manguera Dormida (Sleeping Hose), Gabriel Orozco

Title: Manguera Dormida (Sleeping Hose)

Artist: Gabriel Orozco (b.1962)

Nationality: American/Mexican

Date: 1995

Medium or Technique: silver dye bleach print

Size: 31 x 47 cm. (12.2 x 18.5 in.)

Credit line: Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, gift of Peter Norton; 2016.4.33

Image Credit: © Gabriel Orozco, courtesy Marian Goodman Galleru

Gabriel Orozco typically sets off on foot to take photographs of things he finds on his walks. He does not consider himself a photographer, but uses photographs as planning tools for future artworks (Ruiz 2000). Manguera Dormida (Sleeping Hose) is a preparatory image for an installation work he later created in 1996 titled Long, Yellow Hose. The image includes a green water hose lying on concrete, partly surrounded by a wet stain. Beyond the green of the hose, the overall color palate consists mostly of variants of grey and brown on the ground. The hose extends beyond the frame toward the upper left corner and casts a shadow where it is raised off the ground. The stark outlines of the shadows and the surrounding darkness imply artificial lighting, perhaps from the flash of Orozco’s camera or a streetlight. The square outline of the light could also indicate a window of a nearby building.

While there are no people pictured in the photograph, the lighting clearly implies human presence. The dull color palate coupled with the absence of people creates somber, haunting atmosphere. The overall effect suggests the idea of something being left behind, or forgotten. Demonstrating the absence of people, but incorporating traces of their presence through indirect references is a typical feature in Orozco’s photographs (Fineman 2004, 22).

The hose is shown as both wet and dry, capturing the drying process, a transitional point in time. The wet stain below the hose seems to be receding, but there is no way to be sure. The hose is also partly raised off the ground invoking a sense of tension between movement and stillness. Orozco explains this idea by stating, “My photographs are not just about the instant of movement that you capture in the camera […]. It’s much more total, about constant movement that became static” (Fineman 2004, 22). The title’s reference to a “sleeping hose” further emphasizes this notion. Orozco could have chosen to capture his subject while it was in use and spewing water, but, instead, he captured it in a state of inactivity, or “asleep.” Orozco often attributes human qualities and actions to inanimate objects in his works.  In this way; a yard tool captured in a state of rest carries within it latent potential to be “awakened” by its users.

— Contributed by Curatorial Intern, Cristobal Alday (BA, Art History & Latino/a Studies 2017)

Block Collection Spotlight invites a closer look at objects in the Block Museum permanent collection from students, staff, faculty, and museum audiences.



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