Critics’ Picks

View of “Mariana Castillo Deball,” 2009. From left: Entropology, 2008–2009; and Do ut des, 2008–2009.

View of “Mariana Castillo Deball,” 2009. From left: Entropology, 2008–2009; and Do ut des, 2008–2009.

St. Gallen

Mariana Castillo Deball

Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen
Davidstrasse 40
February 14–April 12, 2009

Mexican artist Mariana Castillo Deball investigates cultural memory via material found in encyclopedias, libraries, and archives and infiltrates history with myth. “Kaleidoscopic Eye,” her Swiss debut, takes on the form of a convoluted snail shell: The exhibition’s contracting temporary architecture is a work in itself. Visitors to the show will first encounter Falschgesichter (Wrong Faces), 2009, a series of blank sheets from a publication about exotic masks. The ethnological inscriptions are still there, but the images have been erased, and only abstract folds that form convex and concave shapes indicate the vanished faces. In an adjacent vitrine is a so-called marvel book––a vast, layered collection of patterned fabrics inaccessible to the viewer. In another work, four books about large international museums depict artworks in relation to the human scale, while variously sized holes are drilled through the pages like insect caves. At the heart of the installation, selected objects refer to the city of St. Gallen: The eccentrically shaped Stumbling Stones, 2009, are objects discarded from melting processes at the local art foundry, and at the tail end of the snail shell is a drawer from the Sitterwerk Center for Art and Culture’s material archive. Three films accompany the exhibition: Entropology, 2008, combines archival images from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, depictions of mineral stones, and a conversation between a mineralogist and her colleagues, who discuss the human desires to imitate nature and to create order. Nobody Was Tomorrow, 2007, interweaves mysterious incidents regarding a defunct aging machine in the laboratory of Belgrade’s national library that could make objects appear older and younger on its own, and Entropology II, 2009, conveys the tale of a hunter who consumed himself. In an ongoing play with scale, natural and artificial order, and scientific ordering systems, Castillo Deball’s work fragments, mirrors, and rearranges our archived world into new forms with multifaceted meanings.