Mercenary Square: An art space out-of-the-grid

Arts / Article

By Janet Batet, Miami Arts Journalist This Friday, February 17, marks the opening of a new exhibition space in Miami: Mercenary Square. Located in Little Havana and under the direction of the keen eye of Carlos Suarez de Jesus -very well known by his biting art column at the Miami New Times, Mercenary Square, with a program of hard cutting-edge, underrepresented, provocative art, promises to be a thermometer of the urban culture of our city.

Ahol: Full-Time, the gallery’s inaugural show, is absolutely a must-see. The exhibition features the most recent artworks produced by Miami graffiti artist Ahol, whose iconic glue sniffing eyes, logo of the Wynwood Art Fair, refers to a polysemic allegory: the work of graffiti artists exposed to toxic fumes; the exhausting condition of Miami’s hardest working but least recognized residents and the increasing addiction to aerosol inhalation among teenagers and most vulnerable segments of the population.

During the past several years, Ahol has been working at least two jobs, feeling crushed by cubicle life far away from the urban walls and the open spaces his art is devoted to. One of the jobs was at a porn company taking phone orders from people buying movies. The most recent, is selling a high end diet cantina on the phone.

“At one job, –explains Suarez de Jesus– he was selling men fantasies of desirable women, at the other now he is selling women a product to make them more desirable to mates.”

Turning these alienating jobs into the main subject of his most recent body of works has been both, a cathartic and a sociological inquiry. Full Time is a continuation of Ahol’s quest exploring American society in decay. The show includes a multimedia installation, sound sculpture works, drawings and photography. The multimedia installation, created in collaboration with Julian Yuri Rodriguez, deals with consumerism, mass media marketing strategies and the evaporating boundaries between highbrow and lowbrow culture.

For the sound sculpture piece, Ahol isolated some of the most iconic requests from the porn clients via phone orders, digitalized the phrases and had them manufactured as  3D sculptures, made of resin. Five of these totemic interactive pieces make up part of the show. If a viewer gets close enough to exhale forcefully the works become animated, spinning alive on their axis, conveying the force of the soundwave and thereby closing the conceptual loop of communication implicit in them.

Otto Von Bass Warrior will be performing during the opening, along with Mr. Feathers and Jose Blue Jeans and The Vagabond is also hosting an After Party starting at 11pm for the event.

Mercenary Square, 537 SW 12th Avenue, Miami. Call 305-710-7642 or visit