The Toy Republic Statement

Review by 701 Center for Contemporary Art 701 Whaley St., Columbia – South Carolina

The Toy Republic is inhabited by Rulers, Bureaucrats and Toy People. Within this hierarchical system, Farfán presents narratives about a class-conscious society and the plight of its people. To some degree, Farfán’s Toy Republic may recall Plato’s best known work, The Republic, in which the Greek philosopher records the ponderings of Socrates and others about politics, virtues, happiness, ethics, and the “order and character of the just city and the just man.” In her three-tiered imaginary republic, Farfán creates a reality that poses similar questions about justice, injustice and virtues.

Based on her childhood perception of the world, Farfán envisions Rulers issuing commands from high altars. This group of four bust portraits presents the Rulers as stoic figures symbolizing monarchal, political, military and religious power and who, by virtue of their positions, dominate the Toy Republic. If Farfán’s Toy Republic evokes the ancient Greeks’ discourse about society, then her use of the bust as an aesthetic device for the Rulers can be linked to the ancient Romans’ desire to capture realism rather than idealism in portraying the likeness of an individual.

The next group – the Bureaucrats – is presented as four full figures, slight in stature and demeanor, seated in tall, steel rolling chairs. Their function in life is to work in the service of a higher authority – the Rulers. Devoid of arms, the Bureaucrats’ power and influence are limited. The gestural qualities seen in their facial and physical expressions indicate a discourse among the group.

The impact of social and class stratification is best exemplified in the final group in the The Toy Republic – The Toy People. Presented as oppressed members of society, the pathos of this group is informed by their small anatomical size, restricted space, facial expressions and physical location within the installation. Numbering more than 20 figures crammed into wagons, this group symbolically represents the largest population in Farfán’s society. Surrounded by both the Rulers and the Bureaucrats, The Toy People appear defenseless, disoriented and abandoned.

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