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Images from the blink. Group show at Carmen Araujo Arte

July 21, 2019

From July 21 until September 16 of 2019, Carmen Araujo Arte Gallery presented the exhibition Images from the Blink, a collection of video works by Eduardo Gil, Julia Zurilla, Suwon Lee, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Luis Poleo, Carlos Castillo, Iván Candeo, Zeinab Bulhossen and Julian Higuerey. The exhibition took place at the gallery’s headquarters in Secadero 2 of Hacienda La Trinidad Cultural Park in Caracas, Venezuela.


Within the framework of the exhibition were included a series of short and feature film screenings by artists who have used video as a means of research and creation, such as Sandra Vivas, Julián Higuerey, Henry Adam Svec and Carlos Castillo, among others.  




Images from the Blink

Text by Sandra Pinardi


In the contemporary world, "video" is an emblem of how the technical image can determine and model many of the actions and beliefs of everyday existence; It is a "medium" close at hand, which is available to all, which serves equally to document realities and situations or to create scenes and narratives, as was the Super 8 cinema in its time. Nevertheless, this closeness, this immediate and indiscriminate presence does not imply that, within the contemporary art scene, the "video" does not represent an enigma, a type of "work" in which what "said" is not easy to grasp and classify, and that is presented as an effective means of experimentation and rupture. Indeed, video works (whether "moving images" or installations) operate or function in unexpected ways; they appear simultaneously as bodies and testimonies, assuming not only that intellection (intellectual interpretation) is a product of sensuality, but they refer to a "making sense of" that does not have as its objective or purpose to elaborate a specific meaning or a specific proposition.


The first thing we can notice is that, the "video" inside the artistic scene implies a divergent, inappropriate use of the technical or digital image and, therefore, can be thought of as a place of reflection from which, on one hand, to determine how the technical image works or behaves inside contemporary visual arts and, on the other, to understand what is the status of contemporary art, to the extent that it is disseminated and stray, and in some way exempted from pre-determined purposes or intentions, a dispersed art that subsists on the fragility of an event and the durability of an operation, in the probably, the witty. Similarly, "video" in the field of artistic practices has an intrinsic duality, that is, it becomes tense between two "scenes": the scene of progress and innovation that has to do with the rapid development and variation of technological media, and the artistic scene in which video, at least as a wish, tries to emerge appealing to an extreme sensuality and a testimonial condition.


The blinking of images

Under these premises, Images of blinking is the first exhibition held in the spaces of Carmen Araujo Arte Gallery based on a research project prepared by me, which aims to systematically and critically systematize the history of the experimental “moving image” in Venezuela since the 70s, with the appearance of Super 8 film. For this exhibition, Iván Candeo selected a group of videos and a set of screenings of short films.


The gaze is born of - and in - the blinking [1], in that involuntary, unconscious and in-sensitive movement, in which, in an enclosure and thanks to a closing, the eye returns to itself, is suspended and emptied into its own function, and is directed lubricated towards the world, the outside. In the blink of an eye, the gaze definitively inscribes its enigma since, despite the fact that the eye is physically closed in the encounter of the very skin that covers it, it allows the appearance of the visible and the function of the seer (of the looked and the subject who is looking). Thanks to this, the blinking not only concretes and makes evident that invisible dimension of the visible, but also, because the vision intervenes causing it restlessness, it questions the mechanisms of the means of production.


The use of the idea - and metaphor - of blinking to inquire about the type of “image” produced by works made with “moving images” within contemporary artistic practices has to do with two aspects related to the notion of “blinking". On the one hand, the blink is the mechanism - structuring, formula, procedure - thanks to which seeing becomes possible, that is, seeing occurs from intermittence - a kind of pendulum - between opening and concealment, between clarity and occlusion, in that sense it happens as a kind of “montage” in which discontinuous instances become intertwined. This mechanism theoretically implies that the vision comes - or operates - from a confrontation with its own instants of blindness, of absence of vision: the appearance is generated from concealment, the visible is constituted in its invisibility.


The blinking, as a physiological mechanism, gives an account of "seeing" in its direct relationship with the body - or with what Merleau-Ponty would call "the flesh" -: seeing without distance or fullness, without subjective mediation. On the other hand, our notion of "blinking" is an interpretation of the use that Marc Richir [2] gives to the notion of "blinking" in his phenomenological investigations. Marc Richir reading Husserl's studies about the imagination proposes that "the blink" is a kind of place of reflection from and in which one can understand (it is evident) the particular way of making sense (of a happening meaning), for that reason he affirms that the making sense of always refers to a public instance, “intersubjective”, subjectively de-possessed. This reading of the studies around the imagination involves a displacement of the traditional epistemological conception since, it could be said, that meaning and knowledge are "testimonies" rather than subjective propositions, testimonies of a "common world of life" that are intimately linked to the possibility and the ability to imagine (to know you have to be able to imagine).


The “moving images” that took part in this exhibition are intertwined simultaneously with both aspects of the idea of ​​“blinking”. In response to the paradoxical "mechanism" that is involved in the blink, some videos are fundamentally constituted as an intrusive and interruptive sequence of shots and points of view, in which the assembly becomes subject and problem, that is, it works not only as a constituent operation but also as a theme and discursive plot. In Las Colas II, Photographic videos series (2013), by Zeinab Bulhossen, a roll of car photographs is the means to question the screening modes of “moving images”. The projection is discovered, becomes evident, and is shown as an artifice of production of both the image and its meaning. Rhythmic reading (2011), by Iván Candeo, reflects on the decipherment of meaning from the presentation of a kind of “body reading”, of gestures and expressions that mark the pauses and inflections of a speech that appears as a “subtitle". It proposes, in this sense, how understanding is linked to bodily experience, to extra-discursive, placed and contextual “elements”: it is understood with the body that looks and deciphers. In the video Muscle Memory (Books of David Alfaro Siqueiros) (2010) by Eduardo Gil the intermittency, the discontinuity of the montage is made explicit in a solitary tennis game in which each shot is also the presentation of a book. A certain sound and visual violence occurs in the counterpoint that is established between the hit of the ball and the appearance of a book cover. A sort of archive of the ideas of the “Latin American left”: dry and repetitive blows.


The cinematographic realization, the possibility of “making a movie” is discussed and poetically questioned in the works of Julián Higuerey and Henry Adam Svec, What a peach is (2018) and What the peach is not (2019), respectively. A reflection on the fundamental elements from which a film is made: authorship, script, proposal and meanings in which the boundaries and boundaries between reality, fiction and materialization are examined. Likewise, 10 short films by José Castillo “Castillito” and the documentary Los Sueños de José Castillo (2012), directed by Andrés and Luis Rodríguez, were screened. The "Castillito" shorts are one of the most important works of national cinematography; each one is drawn by hand, frame by frame, on the film. They are "unique" works that evade the "reproductibility" [3] of the cinematographic, while maintaining the cinematic procedure: frame by frame, to refer to unforeseen and unpredictable aesthetic aspects.


In some works, the image is presented as another image, one that bursts in and marks its own alterity by imposing its own time, rhythm and space. An archaic rhythm and time, thanks to which this “moving image” has a temporality that moves forward and delays itself, is not a continuous movement, nor a discontinuous one, but one that denies any representation. Such is the case, for example, of the video Promises for the payment of moments of contemplation (2013-2014), by Luis Poleo, which, slowed down to its own extremes, accounts for a kind of immobility in the movement, an imperceptible movement, which It is shown only in the minimal differences of the design that produces the smoke: another instance of the mechanism, it is the design - the figure and its changes - which produces a movement that is plotted with the illusion, which is plotted by artifice.


Similarly, Julián Higuerey in World Record (2010), with a duration of 00:00:24 minutes, proposes an image that is, due to its speed, almost imperceptible and, thanks to that, evades the possibility of his own figuration. Suwon Lee in Hope / Despair (2008) proposes an archaic temporality that constitutes the lighting and consumption of a candle, an experiential temporality that extinguishes itself and is realized as affliction. All these works deal with an idea of ​​movement that is delayed in advance and advanced in delay, hence the "now" is radically unobtainable. A temporality in which apparitions change incessantly, by sudden, fleeting and fluctuating, unattainable takeoffs.


The Kiss (2014), by Luis Macías, is an exercise in the reconfiguration and re-inscription of initial images of the cinematographic world, a “historical” exercise that builds an unreadable “time, a kind of “eternity” linked to the gesture and to the body, to an image that is transformed before the eyes from the re-shooting of an original film in the different existing formats: analog, electronic and digital.


Finally, various works presented here belong in the field of meaning without necessarily producing explicit meanings or definite figurations: what happens there is a "wild" sense and meaning, whose access is from affectations, and which does not belong to the domain of immanence or ideality, to subjectivity. These images function as testimonies, in them a dimension of the world and of ourselves that is originally plural is revealed and escapes the symbolic projects and configurations, an anonymous dimension of meaning, with respect to which it is always off-center, as if there were a sense that presents itself one point before being meaningful, before saying something.


Thus, the work of Julia Zurilla Fierce horizon (2017) gives rise to the arrival of an unattainable

in-appropriable memory, in the conjunction of two images that open a “cosmological” space before and after any meaning. In this contrast, the gaze of the other is linked to their own in a making sense which assaults. Likewise, the installation City for rent (1981) by Carlos Castillo and the screening of two of his Super 8 films: The most spectacular film of the century and Pizzani, I saw you ... we saw each other ... we saw each other ... light, camera and action, are works in which a plexus of links with various discourses and situations puts into practice the constitution of a multiple sense, elusive in many aspects, which is enhanced by the constant incorporation of contextual interpretations. The most spectacular film of the century is a reflexive criticism of the film industry itself and the concealments and forgetfulness that the spectacular image puts into circulation.


Juan Carlos Rodríguez's Didactic Landscape (2009) deals with the political and historical role of representation, taking into account the differences that rest there and distort the understanding: a landscape painting serves as a place of explanation for a plot of revolutions and restorations. Pappy (2015) and Igna (2016) by Venezuelan artist Sandra Vivas are two documentaries made in Dominica, in which two iconic but hidden characters of popular culture are given visibility and word. These works document two people who go unnoticed, who remain ignored, despite the fantastic and unpredictable condition of their lives. The short film La Cotorra II (1979), by Rolando Peña (with the participation of Iván Losher) reflects on the difficulties of communication in the contemporary world, full of noise and with a strenuous symbology. Three videos in tribute to Lucio Fontana from the Video Apuntes (2019) series and three videos from the Mobile Body Paintings (2019) series by Magdalena Fernández, are the place to reflect on political violence in contemporary Venezuela, based on a poetic testimony that alludes to the anguish of a community, of an inter-all. Faded Tropic (2016) by Valentina Alvarado Matos addresses experience and identity from a kind of “visual collage” in which she explores the significance as an instance linked to travel, affections and origin.


The use of the “moving image