Critics’ Picks

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, untitled, 2013, silver print on barita paper barita, 21 x 15 3/4". From the series “Incomplete Infinity,” 2013.

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, untitled, 2013, silver print on barita paper barita, 21 x 15 3/4". From the series “Incomplete Infinity,” 2013.


Julia Rometti and Victor Costales

Jousse Entreprise | 6 rue Saint-Claude
6 rue Saint-Claude
June 10–June 15, 2013

The title of Julia Rometti and Victor Costales’s latest exhibition, “El Perspectivista,” is a nod to Amazonian perspectivism, a movement developed in the 1990s by Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, which posits that animals and plants possess human souls. Rometti and Costales have been working collaboratively for six years in Latin America, particularly focusing their studies on the region and its alternative terrains of thought and history. Here, they have created a body of work including conceptual installations and detailed documentation that takes up shamanistic concerns while countering traditional Western notions of space and vantage point. Consider the black-and-white photographic series “Incomplete Infinity,” 2013, which features stark, rocky landscapes; each photograph is taken from different angles behind a set of bars. By imaging landscapes literally jailed by a framing device that creates a sense of scale, the artists subtly begin to tug at the viewing standards imposed by centuries of Western artistic culture. Structures are collapsed and perspectives opened.

Amplifying this theme is “Americanas,” 2013, also a series of black-and-white photographs. Here, the artists focus on agaves to the extent that they seem less like plants and more like camouflaged human beings. As such, “Americanas” evokes one of the key strands of perspectivism, that the natural world possesses energies and powers that might engender strategies for living in a more ecological and nonhierarchical environment—a sentiment echoed by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev in her presentation of Documenta 13 (i.e., the concept of the traumatized object, which springs from the cultural theory of “collapse and recovery”). These ideas naturally play into tenets of shamanism, blurring distinctions between what is considered magic and what is considered objective reality, alive or inanimate. In L’Inconsistance des Pierres Sauvages (The Inconstancy of the Savage Stones), 2013, two projectors show slides of volcanic stones on neutral backgrounds, which the artists also display in the form of two real rock specimens in another work included in the show. The volcanic stones are presented as at once physical and immaterial beings, and in a manner that is quasi-scientific, even classificatory. At play here is the possibility of streamlining the potential of mystics into the tangible world of lived, material experience.