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Javier Téllez, Rotations (Prometheus and Zwitter), 2011, two 35-mm film projections, 7 minutes each. Installation view.

Javier Téllez

Galerie Peter Kilchmann

Javier Téllez, Rotations (Prometheus and Zwitter), 2011, two 35-mm film projections, 7 minutes each. Installation view.

One of the guiding images that drives his practice, Javier Téllez has said, is a memory from childhood. As a kid in Venezuela, Téllez would visit his psychiatrist father at the hospital where he worked. During carnival, when the world turns upside down, the mental patients would trade their uniforms for the doctors’ sterile white coats. In that strange, mutable moment, the paternalistic binaries of doctor and patient, normative and pathological, broke down. And so, eventually, Téllez’s videos and films—with their carnivalesque admixture of fiction and document, fantasia and poetic plainness—were born. As I write this review, the medieval carnival of Basel, called Fasnacht, rages outside. It seems no coincidence that my first experience of it conjured Diane Arbus’s infamous images of institutionalized mental patients. The sheer transgressiveness—a spell in which the

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