By Florencia MalbrÃ¡n. Invited curator.
"Unseen voices" brings together work by two artists who turn to literature, as well as film and architecture, to reflect on the present and its links with the past. Alejandro Cesarco and Jorge MÃ©ndez Blake present the voices of Marguerite Duras and Jorge Luis Borges, among other authors. Their works are not limited to illustrating literature, or quoting written text, or making explicit the assumptions of their artistic practice. In these works, a very different dynamic between word and image is at play.
How to understand the present? How to access the here and now? We might answer that we need to know the past in order to explain the present and project ourselves into the future. We know, however, that history consists of thousands of facts that can be interpreted from thousands of points of view. We will never be able to reconstruct the full meaning of the past. This impossibility, far from leading us to surrender or relativism, merely renews the burning questions about our present. There must be a way of thinking and measuring time apart from chronometers and calendars, urges Jean-Luc Nancy, a key figure in contemporary culture. And Nancy commits himself to the âtoday,â seeking to give meaning to its fragments. The works exhibited in "Unseen Voices" engage in this search, proposing spaces that open time and allow us to explore the present, in a sort of interval, outside the furious succession of minutes into which the world plunges headlong.
When turning to the past, when reading it, these works make it present. They put on display voices that offer differences, new connections, without speaking uniformly or arriving to a definite resolution. Cesarco, MÃ©ndez Blake, Borges, Duras, Link: do they say the same thing? Or do they exhibit irreducible languages with specific and singular incumbencies? I would say that in these works there is no discourse, from one voice to the next, seeking to reach a conclusion. Instead, there is, once again according to Nancy, a âsuspended step.â We cannot force from the juxtaposition of voices a higher meaning. Not even these works are fixed structures, nor are we monolithic spectators. It would seem the only thing permanent is change, as Cesarco once pointed out when explaining his artistic vision.
If the voices presented by Cesarco and MÃ©ndez Blake are in various states of agitation, it might be because they respond to a kind of restlessness manifested in the very space of these works. Both artists account for an implosion that occurred long ago, breaking the unique and singular artwork into many fragments, expanded throughout the exhibition space. Instead of beholding at a distance, we must now enter into these open zones: walk, read, view and explore their splinters, glimmers, shatters. Literature, then, would not be the only "other" in these works. These works embrace the "outside," are made of "other parts" that do not even seem to refer to art. The frame and the pedestal provided a type of support that is far gone âas far as the certainty of interpretation. We must face this openness; we have no other choice than going through it, accompanying its elucidation. Inside these spaces, each of us can engage in dialogue, breaking or emphasizing words and whispers. Similarly, each of us can ponder about these spaces, imagine them anew, and, in so doing, transform the present.
The curatorial premise of "Unseen Voices" responds to FundaciÃ³n Proaâs own architectural section, where the library is not only located alongside the exhibition galleries, but also is placed in the center of the building. In this way, tuned to current sensibility, Proa does not restrict culture into areas of competence, but opens to the complexity and intensity of contemporary experience.
Florencia MalbrÃ¡n is an Independent curator. Master in Arts in Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (New York) and a Bachelor in Arts from the Universidad de Buenos Aires (University of Buenos Aires).
Conducted multiple critical and curatorial projects in different institutions and countries. In 2009, took a curatorial residence in ARTIUM, Centro Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo (EspaÃ±a). Integrated the curatorial department of the Guggenheim and worked at the Salomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Also worked in the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires and the Pinacoteca do Estado de SÃ£o Paulo.
Published essays in specialized catalogues and contemporary art magazines. Received scholarships from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones CientÃficas y TÃ©cnicas (CONICET), the Fondo Nacional de las Artes and the FundaciÃ³n Cisneros.
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Jorge MÃ©ndez Blake y Alejandro Cesarco