Rodrigo Valenzuela (b.1982, Santiago, Chile) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Valenzuela completed an art history degree at the University of Chile (2004), then worked in construction while making art over his first decade in the United States. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Evergreen State College and an MFA at University of Washington (2012). He is a Professor of Art at University of California Los Angeles.
Using staged scenes and digital interventions, Valenzuela's photography, video and installation work is rooted in the contradictory traditions of documentary and fiction, at the same time, these pursuits are equally centered on a semiotic, politically engaged post-capitalist critique of social constructs and civic institutions.
Rodrigo Valenzuela’s photographic assemblages are often evocative of the kind of transitional spaces in modern living associated with building construction, urban decline and civil disobedience. These built environments, already a simulacrum of reality, are further complicated by his technique of using his own photographic work as backdrops against which additional installations are seamlessly built and rephotographed. In this way a complex sense of spatial displacement is created. Taken as a whole his work makes poetic use of the liminal spaces that modern living so often places us within, locations that are always on the threshold of being built or sliding into decline. Valenzuela speaks of travelling across the US by car and paying witness to the parts of the landcape that we look away from, the discarded parts of the American Dream that line the roadside mile after mile.
Valenzuela’s many residencies include Light Work in Syracuse, NY; a Core Fellowship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Skowhegan, ME; Bemis Center, NE and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY.
Valenzuela is recipient of several awards, including an Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award 2014, Texas Contemporary Award 2014, Stranger Genius Award 2013, University of California Artist Research Grant 2015.