the early years

alejandro cesarco at tanya leighton

An Alejandro Cesarco exhibition is a difficult space to inhabit. Like a deep sigh, an immortal pause in a conversation or the first few pages of a book, there is a sense of expectation — we are called on to act, speak, justify. The conceptual Uruguayan-born artist does not create artwork that invites our eyes to gently rest on the surface. If it seduces us with its aesthetic minimalism, symmetry, amalgam of names, dates, open ended questions or phrases it is only as a byproduct of its romantic semi-biographical nature, intermingling generalities and groupings of information that cause us to engage in the creation of connections and associations. We read through, curious for the next chapter to be created.

Although consisting of only four works, The Early Years reflects on a breadth of topics concerning the artist’s own experience. Concerned with the device of narrative, self-memorialization and the space between biography, dramatization and fiction, Cesarco brings together a series of framed printed works, as well as In Time (2012), a new video work which picks up on the themes of Methodology (2011), the artist’s work for the 54th Biennale di Venezia. The protagonists from Methodology, now projected 10 years in the future, read to each other as their means of communication, emphasizing the ever widening gap in their own connectedness despite their continued oration and deep commitment to exposition.

Index (An Orphan) and Where I am Calling From are interpretations of what a biographical text by Alejandro Cesarco might contain if he were to write a biography — a book that most probably will not be produced outside these schema. The improbability of the “drafts” development draws even further attention to their content. In Index, Cesarco’s fourth series of indices, the artist maps out the experience of mourning and pain resulting from the transition from childhood to adulthood. Concepts and words strung together such as “Oedipus, 40; omnipotence, 28; On Reading (Proust), 73” or “Paco Rabanne (perfume), 76; pain, 27-29, 33, 35, 93, 104; palliative care, 80” are just some of the multidisciplinary references. Devoid of actual narrative something else more essential is conveyed — the feelings behind the actual chronicle, the connectedness provoked by any essential piece of literature.

There in an elegant invisibility that permeates Cesarco’s works. Although saturated with potential imagery, the physical work itself remains primarily abstracted in text and shrouded in tender allusions. Cesarco inspires us to brazenly decode and construct our own associations. Utilizing opacities to intertwine dialogues, the artist seeks to entertain memories and romantically confront feelings of loss — a pain which here in Early Years is all to sweet.

by Nicole Rodriguez

[Image: Installation view, The Early Years, courtesy Tanya Leighton]