Friday, October 28, 2011 to Saturday, November 26, 2011

    • Friday, October 28, 2011 to Saturday, October 29, 2011
    CÉSAR DAMIÀN: MIGRATION/MEMORY, TRANSITORY NATURE OF EXISTENCE “The investigation of a specific site is a matter of extracting concepts out of existing sense-data through direct perceptions…One does not impose, but rather expose the site…The unknown areas of sites can best be explored by artists.” Robert Smithson 1 The cold still waters of Crag Lake in the Yukon reflect the northern night sky. Bright shining stars form the Milky Way beyond the mountain ridges. During the day, grizzly bear rummages through the garbage dump on the hillside where tall white aspen rustle their golden yellow leaves in the warmth of the autumn day. Several thousand kilometers and a season away, the hot dry afternoon sun filtered through the evergreens casting shadows on the needle laden forest floor. The water gently flowed along the riverbed of granite boulders providing respite from the heat. A dusty red road meandered into town where one could buy limes, ice cream and access the Internet. This was Hidalgo Mexico in the summer. The ability to discern between reality and fiction becomes an exercise of self-discovery as one interprets secrets, memories and recollections. For César Damiàn, what remains embedded in the strata translates fragmented narratives into a sense of belonging, a continuum of shared histories, cultures and resilience. The ability to reclaim one’s story is to continue the dialogue without replacing it with another-a matter of survival. Damiàn creates a transitional metaphysical space that eloquently situates the sensuousness of movement between the aesthetic space through mnemonic devices to recall the beauty and the horror of place and cultural space that consciously transcends mere anecdote to relate an expanded memory, experience and existence. The ephemeral nature of his installation work, Migration Essay, suspended in a vulnerable stasis reflects a moment that invites the viewer to cross the threshold. What we discover within ourselves is perhaps the realization that through individual and collective knowledge we begin to experience a social agenda or multiple meanings associated with historical constructs and ideological relationships related to community values. Raising consciousness regarding land, history and culture become catalyst for social change. This becomes a state of mind rather than a physical place. Migration and memory provide a point of departure as César reveals notions of being uprooted and privilege; relationships and terminologies that confuse place with property. The changing landscape is created by the replacement of some people and the displacement of others. Ownership becomes a complex and problematic entity however, César presents not only poetic references that engage the intrinsic qualities of his materials, his photo-based conceptual works bear witness to vulnerability and continuity. He elucidates the fundamental relationships between nature, culture and theories of how human memory functions. We tend to remember the first and last significant event or image rather than those that construct the journey. The experience becomes ethereal and fleeting much like the ebb and flow of the tide that washes away the contorted faces and disappearing angst. Memory replaces the authoritative account found in the history books. With a quiet restraint Damiàn seduces us to question what lies between absence and presence, objective and subjective. How does one articulate the past and the present when events become so consumed that they transform into the imperceptible? In an unstable equilibrium his personal quest becomes an arduous task of perception a commentary on the fragility of lifehuman emotion and spirituality, we need to understand where we belong. Intricately interconnected the land is comprised of a millennium of ancestral experiences, a living knowledge universal in scope. Our physical, emotional and moral existence is connected to community a place often found in a distant yet ideal place. Damiàn reminds us of his personal journey a primal journey that is not a mere documentation but rather an investigative storytelling adventure that questions ideologies warranting emotional response. What are our connections to land? Do we ultimately achieve a sense of wholeness or balance in our lives? Through sound and video César Damiàn negotiates space organically, allegorically and metaphorically to comment on unity rather than division among community. In his work, Catharsis, sound allows for the reconstruction of an experience to relate the narrative and validate place into one’s consciousness. To know one’s own history is to deny being defined by others and retain the ability to chart the future. Conveyance of specific historical or cultural information authenticates a believable place yet it is constructed from either a past or present place, not to be confused with nostalgia, thus making a universal connection to the diversity of global culture. Diverse cosmologies and belief systems shape the way we experience the land and to live an ordinary lifestyle is to make sense of the extraordinary. Throughout Damiàn’s journey resonance and residual expose notions of identity, history and shifting boundaries. Whether the borderlines are arbitrarily drawn on a map defined by political regimes or recalled through oral tradition we regard and acknowledge the search for a better way of life. Beyond the borders one would find the “other”. He recounts the border as a place of conflict, a site of anxiety and disempowerment. The outsider is the marginalized and dispossessed. His work provokes a spatial relation that defamiliarizes the familiar and creates a new place whereupon no singular experience is recorded but rather a fragmented narrative that may be entered at any given part of the journey. Obvious interpretations of space vary from culture to culture however in the larger schema, temporal recollections and confluence between nature and culture become significant events that demand resolution of one’s identity. In a multifarious society assimilation and homogeneity become the terms of the day. Homeland becomes blurred. Who becomes the migrant? Patricia Deadman
    1. Lucy R. Lippard, The Lure of the Local: senses of place in a multicentered society (The New Press, New York, New York, 1997) p183