‘No Lone Zone’ is a military term designating an area where, for reasons of safety and security, the presence of just one person is not allowed. The phrase can also be used metaphorically to describe a highly sensitive or unstable place, such as the vulnerable environments that proliferate in the context of postcolonial globalisation.
27 May to 21 August 2011
Violence as an integral part of daily life: pain and death are constant themes in the work of the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles. The Museion exhibition tackles the murders and disappearances in the city of Jaurez in Mexico: a central element of the presentation is a wall with visible bullet holes left by executioners.
The show also features a filmed action created by the artist in Bolzano, inspired by the thought that all places have a story of suffering etched into their past.
At first glance, her works often seem to be minimalist in their form. Viewers only discover that they are deeply emotional and dramatic when they become aware of the rigorous realism in the choice of material.
“Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence” at USC’s Fisher Museum of Art presents the work of a dozen international artists who explore such fundamental mysteries using the substances so often associated with them: light, shadow and atmosphere.
Overall, it’s a relatively tight show — physically involving, emotionally absorbing and conceptually sound. Each artist is represented by a single work, dating from the 1980s to the present, but all have demonstrated over time a broader, deeper engagement with the issues at hand. No artistic integrity was sacrificed in the name of thematic consistency — and that’s one of the show’s most impressive absences.
Alineto (Breath), 2002
The spectacles range in intensity from whispers to roars. One of the quietest works, the Colombian Oscar Munoz’s “Aliento (Breath),” is also one of the most poignant. Five mirrored discs hang at eye level and bear no image but the viewer’s own reflection until breathed upon. Condensation causes another face to emerge, a small photographic portrait of a deceased man or woman, there only briefly, then once again submerged within the disc’s glossy surface. The faces’ anonymity and the brevity of their appearance act as powerful metaphors for our transient condition, our lives as fleeting as a single breath.
Munoz’s delicate act of breathing life into vanished souls competes with the foggy extravaganza of a neighboring installation. Danish artist Jeppe Hein’s “Smoking Bench” blankets you with vaporous plumes when you sit on it. A nearby mirror allows you the pleasure of watching yourself momentarily vanish, a gimmicky but amusing smoke-and-mirrors illusion.
Aire (Air), 2002
Vapors are central to several other works in the show. Five portable humidifiers in Teresa Margolles’ “Aire (Air)” emit gentle streams of air moistened, in part, by water that was used to clean corpses in a Mexican morgue. The notion is stirring, but the piece is otherwise mute.
Experiencing Cinema, 2004
In “Experiencing Cinema,” a better use of atmospherics, Brazilian Rosangela Renno revives an early 19th century phantasmagoria practice of projecting still pictures onto veils of smoke. Photographs, gathered from found family albums, cohere briefly on the smoke screen; then both image and screen dissipate, mortality again provocatively aligned with ephemerality.
The evocative power of shadows and reflections dominates the remaining works. Christian Boltanski’s orbiting dancer, seen in shadow through a partly opened door, is mildly intriguing for its calculated elusiveness. In Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s installation, the movement of viewers triggers the brightness of a row of low-hanging incandescent bulbs, creating a play of overlapping shadows on the opposite wall, but the effort amounts to little. Regina Silveira’s perspectively distorted shadow of a reader (in vinyl, adhered to wall and floor) holding an actual book, feels slight, as if it ought to be part of a larger installation.
Jim Campbell layers a photogravure over a grid of programmed LED lights to create an image of shadowy figures moving up and down the steps of the New York Public Library. Human presence appears as shifting, translucent gray washes across the fixed stone edifice, resulting in a lovely meditation on time, endurance and transience.
53rd INTERNATIONAL ART EXHIBITION – LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA 2009
¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar?
(What Else Could We Talk About?)
7 June – 22 November 2009
The pavilion will host a solo show by Mexican artist Teresa Margolles titled ¿De qué otra cosa podríamos hablar? (What Else Could We Talk About?) which involves of a single and continuous intervention, with different actions and works along the pavillion. The show is curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina.
The works presented at the Mexican Pavilion are a subtle chronicle of the effects of a devilish international economy: the vicious circle of prohibition, addiction, accumulation, poverty, hatred and repression that transmogrifies the transgresive pleasures and puritan obsessions of the North into the South as Hell.