Critics’ Picks

View of “Alejandro Cesarco,” 2014.


Alejandro Cesarco

Galleria Raffaella Cortese | Via Stradella 7
Via Stradella 7
February 20 - May 10

Alejandro Cesarco’s investigative path and his poetically stark Conceptual works often depend a great deal on an imaginative encounter between a word and an image. His current solo exhibition in Milan occupies both of Raffaella Cortese’s adjacent galleries. The series “A Portrait of the Artist Approaching 40,” 2013, offers three small black-and-white photographs that immortalize details of the floor in his New York studio and that from afar appear as random punctuation marks arranged by chance, perhaps in expectation of finding a place within a yet to be written text.

The show contains other pages, as in The Style It Takes (Excerpts), 2014, which offers an index, from a book yet to be written, whose subject headings—at once biographical and concerning art theory, personal and academic—address the possibilities of art, the social function of art, and the shifting roles of the artist. The artist seems to insist on this point of the book’s unfinishedness, almost as if he were seeing art as an open problem. The Style It Takes (Excerpts) is thus an indicator that becomes a narrative hypertext; the reader can intuit the contents of this hypothetical text, reading the clues that are presented. One thinks here of a significant historical reference in the history of the hypertext, namely Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, a masterpiece of metaliterature.

The exhibition includes a dramatic surprise in Musings, 2013, a 16-mm film transferred to video in which a narrator conveys a series of stories—what we might call sources, occasions, and possible inspirations for artists in general—that investigate dreams, death, and fate. The work brings together stories written or inspired by Susan Sontag, Ingmar Bergman, Maurice Blanchot, Agnès Varda, Gertrude Stein, Italo Calvino, and Julio Cortázar, without maintaining the slightest idea of linearity. In the end, Musings triangulates the ideas of inspiration, influence, and inheritance.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.