My Highlights from Zona MACO 2014

Abaseh Mirvali
Jan 31, 2014 8:04PM

I learned how to speak the language of contemporary art on the job. My education was in politics, literature, and philosophy, and I first learned to hang work and make catalogs not curating. I shy away from the word curator but love the space and one’s relationship with it and how you can tell a story quietly, so I like the end result (the show). In between is work and after years of going to exhibitions, reviewing dossier after dossier, hours at shows during installation, hours talking to the craftsmen/technical crew involved when installing and hours listening to the artists, I found a handful of artists, their works and their words which make up the vocabulary I use when I do curatorial work, or write a text, or produce a project. I am concerned with interpretation, structure, composition—in abstraction and the works that I picked play with those elements.

My Selection: 

Mario García Torres, Kunsthalle Zürich 2005-2008, at Proyectos Monclova 

MGT is one of the artists that define my contemporary art language. There are apparently a few of these works (and I liked the Pompidou one a tad more) and they seem to appear every few years. There is a past and a history and a new way to look at it.

Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Aleaciones con memoria de forma II, 2014, at Max Wigram Gallery

I have been following her work for a few years and like the particular language she is using to communicate. Amazing textures from adobe bricks, to metal, weaving, etc., that allow you to examine the narrative from different perspectives. As Jose Roca wrote: “Ximena Garrido-Lecca has been living outside of Peru for more than a decade. The physical and temporal distance, and being immersed in a cultural environment with very different codes, has made her see some cultural features of her country of origin with different eyes. Garrido-Lecca is interested in the social landscape of Peru and in the ways in which the ancestral cultures are gradually disappearing as result of globalization. Among her iconographic sources are adobe walls, decorated gates, precarious enclosures made with metal sheets, multi-colored public fountains, cemetery niches, and the popular aesthetic in general, baroque and overdone, with its strident colors and unlikely combination of forms.” (From a text written by Jose Roca in 2013)

Christodoluos Panayiotou, Untitled, 2012, at Proyectos Monclova

Istanbul 2012: when I saw the work and met the artist. To strip all, to reduce to the basic and it is even stronger. The artist Christodoulos Panayiotou (b. 1978) has a background in choreography and anthropology, and weaves together the methods of the researcher and the choreographer in his multiform work. He has systematically examined how cultural and national identities are constructed through collective storytelling. Two monochrome paintings in gold leaf, Untitled (2012) is reminiscent of Byzantine icons, but here in an abstract form and stripped of religious motives.

Helen Mirra, 10th October, Dakesawa, 2012, at Galerie Nordenhake

Her work for me is like reading poetry. The works, though fragile, come from a place of might. For Helen Mirra, walking is an integral component to all her works. Since 2010, she has been organizing these walks with great attention and precision, as sort of open-ended expeditions in different places of the world. The results take various forms—sometimes printmaking, sometimes writing, sometimes sound recordings.

10 October, Dakesawa [accompanying text]:

Citrus-colored mountainside with clouds obscuring peaks Steep climbing among older mountaineers. Sky clearing, peaks appearing Hut, helicopter place, stone steps, small glacier Slipping on rocky descent Parallel double-plank paths through marsh Suspension bridge over Azusagawa, bird and dragon rowboats Dirt road through open woods, moody green understory of kumazasa”Matt Mullican, Untitled (Elements 38), 2012, at Mai 36 GalerieWonderful artist. His more historical works are amazing and these works continue a journey. Since the beginning of the 1970s, Matt Mullican has investigated the meaning of life in his artistic studies, trying to establish the order of the universe and devise a system to chart its encyclopaedic dimensions. This is just a small part of the bigger picture...

Pia Camil,Espectacular telon, 2013, at Galería OMR 

I saw the first one in Buenos Aires and it stayed with me.

A text by Gabriela Jauregui on Camil’s series: 


The world is this stage. With word and deed we insert ourselves into it. Here, these small black letters you are reading insert you. Or perhaps you insert yourself by reading, standing, watching, waiting for something that may or may not come?


The real question then is: what is this world we insert ourselves or are inserted into? If we are active—actors—then are we on stage. Or are we behind stage? Are we watching for the curtains to open/slide/fall? A show. 


A curtain is a beginning. We are beginning. We are beginners. The spectacle is to watch. To be watched. A show. A revelation. To watch the beginning. To come into birth. Something new is happening here. Something is being born. To act (so as) to set something in motion. Something new. To move. To dance/sit/speak. To come into being. 


Speculum=mirror. Spectacular mirror. Spectacular, means both a lavish performance, a show; but also an elaborate display. This latter use, in Spanish, commonly refers to giant ads on the side of the road. Elaborate display of merchandise—a different kind of exchange and spectacle. Then, suddenly these ads appear garbled and warped, their messages hacked and chopped . Symbols of urban blight, they become this: pure colors, mute, light. Or is this a new language of disappearance and erasure? And yet... With sign and deed they insert themselves into a new world. They are born, at play. Show & Hide. A spectacular curtain. What does it hide? What does it reveal? 


Opening and closing curtains: a domestic ritual, to occupy space. To use one’s hands. To make. Birthing. To think with one’s fingertips. Touch & Show. Note to self: handmade sounds a lot like handmaid. 


A spectacular is also a public presentation. A curtain also implies a public. So, standing here, we are on the verge: about to jump into action, we set the stage. On/off. Yes/No.


Listen: Spectacular is also outstanding: are we standing out/in? Remarkable. We make our mark. Look. Listen. It’s your hand. 


Jorge Macchi, Mapa, 2009, at Galleria Continua

Explore Zona MACO 2014 on Artsy.  

Abaseh Mirvali