New York

Luis Camnitzer, El mirador (The Observatory), 1996, mixed media. Installation view.

Luis Camnitzer, El mirador (The Observatory), 1996, mixed media. Installation view.

Luis Camnitzer

Alexander Gray Associates

An unsettling presence pervades Luis Camnitzer’s El mirador (The Observatory), 1996, a room-within-a-room whose components—including a stained pillow, an enamel plate, a few magazines, and a (mostly) empty bottle of wine—suggest an inhabitant. Have they died or, in some mysterious way, just disappeared? The sliding metal gate above a shelf built into the installation’s inaccessible door—through which that dish might be slid back and forth, full or empty of food—likens these quarters to a prison cell. Surveillance could be facilitated by the fist-size horizontal gap running at eye level along each wall, which permitted visitors circling the perimeter to see into the space. But it must have been some time since anyone occupied it: Sheets of matted hair and dust were gently scattered across the floor.

The title of this installation conjures the overgrown capital of the ancient Maya civilization,

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