Paris

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, roca | azul | jacinto | marino | errante (rock | blue | hyacinth | navy | errant), 2013, concrete tiles, dye,volcanic rocks, 12 5/8 x 78 3/4 x 118 1/8".

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, roca | azul | jacinto | marino | errante (rock | blue | hyacinth | navy | errant), 2013, concrete tiles, dye,volcanic rocks, 12 5/8 x 78 3/4 x 118 1/8".

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales

Jousse Entreprise | 6 rue Saint-Claude

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales, roca | azul | jacinto | marino | errante (rock | blue | hyacinth | navy | errant), 2013, concrete tiles, dye,volcanic rocks, 12 5/8 x 78 3/4 x 118 1/8".

Julia Rometti and Victor Costales’s exhibition “El Perspectivista” was born of a sociological and philosophical exploration of what the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro calls “Amerindian Perspectivism,” a naturalist worldview wherein animals, plants, spirits, and humans are understood to apprehend the same reality from different points of view. The resulting body of work includes black-and-white photographs, projected slide comparisons, zine-like photocopied pamphlets, volcanic rocks, and concrete tiles. Emphasizing the quasi-scientific nature of their practice, Rometti and Costales (who have collaborated since 2007) opt for neutral and systematic displays. Whether laid out on a thin white table or nestled inside archival boxes on an illuminated library table designed by Pierre Jeanneret, their works have the aura of mysterious, but significant, archaeological discoveries.

But this is not to suggest that Rometti and Costales’s works are clinical to the point of being devoid of aesthetic interest. On the contrary, they pointedly blend representational imagery and abstraction and reject a homogeneous conception of space in favor of a multifaceted, perspectivist view. Cosmovisión V, VI, and VII (all works cited, 2013)—the title is a Spanish adaptation of the German word Weltanschauung, or “worldview”—are works made from photographic blowups of negatives the artists accessed at the National Military Geographic Institute of Ecuador. In these bird’s-eye views of the Amazon jungle, the miniaturized, densely packed treetops could collectively be mistaken for the surface of a craggy rock. Our understanding of perspective and texture is further complicated by the fact that the artists have cut up the photographs into small diamond shapes and painstakingly pieced them together to create three hybrid landscapes. The scaly diamond cutouts bring a new haptic quality to the topographic imagery. Adding another level of spatial confusion, the arrangement of diamonds creates an optical illusion: Cubes appear to protrude and recede from the collages’ flat surfaces. This type of decorative pattern, which dates as far back as ancient Roman mosaics, reappears throughout the exhibition. Referencing this historical context, roca | azul | jacinto | marino | errante (rock | blue | hyacinth | navy | errant), is a rectangular flooring made of smooth cement tiles decorated with a bright-blue, illusionistic cube motif. Sitting on top of the tiles, two bowling ball size volcanic rocks are the antithesis of their flat geometric backdrop. One cannot help but think of Mount Vesuvius subsuming Pompeii’s civilization with volcanic ash.

The coexistence of landscape and geometry is most obviously observed in a suite of seven photographs, whose very long title ends incomplete infinity—images taken in Peru’s Palpa Valley, near the ancient geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines. These large-scale drawings, which range from depictions of simple shapes to sophisticated animal illustrations, can be seen only from the sky; tourists pay to mount a primitive observation tower in the middle of the desert. In photos taken during their ascent, Rometti and Costales show the arid terrain fragmented by the bars of the climbing structure. Solid black lines in the foreground divide each composition into a series of triangles and various trapezoids. These are landscape photographs, but the famous scenery is unintelligible—the geoglyphs appear only as blurry white marks in the distance. By contrast, the focused scaffolding creates bold abstract compositions. As with the reversible cube motif, two realities are perceivable, but not at the same time.

Mara Hoberman