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The Renaissance Society presents Alejandro Cesarco, Song, featuring newly commissioned works alongside recent projects. Including video and prints, this poetic installation suggests themes of duration, refusal, repetition, and affective forms.
As an exhibition, Song carries a particular tempo, closer to the time of reading than the time of looking. Cesarco creates rhythm in his work by incorporating silences and withholdings: here the moving image works are presented sequentially, gently introducing a pace and flow to the installation and immersing the viewer in an aesthetic that the artist has elsewhere characterized as “muted melodrama.” In doing so, Cesarco begins to reveal how the works’ emotions lay in their tone, and in the particular mode of attention that they demand.
This presentation, as in the artist’s broader practice, represents a sustained investigation into time, memory, and how meaning is perceived. Sometimes romantic, other times melancholic, his works evince a deep engagement with the histories and aesthetics of conceptual art. Many of Cesarco’s artistic strategies point to the influence of a “personal canon” drawn from other art forms—literature, cinema, music, for example. In them, he locates not only structural and conceptual methodologies, but also a depth of feeling and acute sense of style.
At the heart of the exhibition are two related video works: the first chapter of the artist’s 2008 video, Everness, which features an actor reciting a monologue, written by Cesarco, on the meaning of tragedy; and a new remake of this chapter with the same actor, now almost a decade later. The principal difference between the two is a linguistic shift from present to past tense. The presentation of these videos together invites close reflection on the passage of time, the demands on productivity, the potentials of re-reading, and the contingencies of meaning.
Other pieces in Song similarly allude to moments of regret and hope, possibilities both past and future. A new series of prints, Vanitas (From Remorse to Regret) (2017), depict different tropes of the still life genre. A third moving image work, Interlude (2016), is a quietly impressionistic and tender portrait of the fleetingness and involuntary nature of memory. In The Dreams I’ve Left Behind (2015), time and space are revisited as the artist screenprints a faint image of the wall behind his own bed directly onto the wall of the gallery.
A catalogue will be published in Spring 2018 with new texts from Julie Ault, Wayne Koestenbaum, Lynne Tillman, and others.
Curated by Solveig Øvstebø.
ALEJANDRO CESARCO (1975) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Play at Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin (2015), Prescribe The Symptom at Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2015), and Loyalties and Betrayals at Murray Guy, New York (2015). He recently produced a public art project, Words Like Love: Alphaville, First Scenes, for SculptureCenter, New York (2017). Cesarco is also director of the non-profit arts organization Art Resources Transfer, dedicated to creating more egalitarian access to the arts and literacy by activating the key components of the printed book—publication, distribution, and spaces of reading.
Alejandro Cesarco, Song, is supported by the Chicago Committee of the Renaissance Society.