Mexico City

Carolina Fusilier, Sunday 7:25 pm, 2021, oil on canvas, 59 × 78 3⁄4".

Carolina Fusilier, Sunday 7:25 pm, 2021, oil on canvas, 59 × 78 3⁄4".

Carolina Fusilier

Carolina Fusilier’s work has previously concerned itself with the metaphysics of the nonhuman, even the inorganic: To what gods do machines pray? In her latest exhibition, Fusilier expanded on that inquiry to ponder whether anything can exist outside of time. The show’s title, “Clepsidra,” refers, like its English cognate clepsydra, to a water clock, one of the most ancient kinds of timepiece. The first room of the gallery held three paintings. Sunday 7:25 pm (all works 2021) depicts a mostly red bedroom with a wide rectangular window that itself recursively opens onto a kind of portal, a white vortex of matter spinning in a red sky above a black mass: the ocean or the endless expanse of space. The bed is not quite empty. Spread across it in a way that brings to mind a reclining human figure are several machines, their white lights of activity glowing in a violet semidarkness. One is a hybrid of a Kindle and a paper book; another an illuminated screen under the sheets; and the third, enigmatically, a vacuum cleaner sucking a row of Post-its from the wall, making the book’s pages flutter. Thursday 8:27 pm portrays a blue, dimly lit kitchen-like interior. Over a table hovers a robotic hand spilling a bottle of shimmery liquid onto a table, upon which lies another mechanical hand, one that appears out of order. The arm extending from the first hand is diaphanous; it comes from nowhere. Has it been collecting our leftovers? A molcajete (mortar and pestle) and a mamey sapote (a fruit) also sit on the table. Through an open window, we see that unknowable black expanse again, but this time a few stick figures with glowy ends are in it. Are they playing? Working? A black cat observes us from a chair in the corner.

These mystifying interiors evoke the prophecy of alt-right accelerationist philosopher Nick Land: “Nothing human makes it out of the near-future.” But what if the end of the human was not the end of consciousness? Of joy, laziness, or curiosity? What would a nonhuman self-awareness, perhaps belonging to one of our beloved material and nonhuman companions, make of our Earth? Are their experiences, too, shaped by time?

The second room of the exhibition dealt with such questions more explicitly. Our senses were welcomed by waves of sound. In Ubiquitous Feeling, an eerily distorted recording of the repetitive sounds of the ocean emanated from skeletal speakers resting on glass vessels. The speakers themselves were agents here: Atop them rested beach debris, rocks, seashells, and dry corals; sand was spread on the floor. The vibration, the physical performance of sound, toyed with the objects, slowly wearing them down into sandy dust. On the walls hung “Clepsidra,” a series of small hybrid painting/sculpture timepieces. Each one depicted a glass vase holding water and a plant, with a single functioning clock hand at its center adding a layer of cyclical accounting to the rhythm of the audio waves. Every vase evoked a distinct personality, a mood. One of them, improbably C-shaped, contained a peacock feather; another slumped down, some sad leaves flopping over its lips. A gorgeous one, blue and curvy—shaped like an Instagram model—proudly held a stylish orchid. There were twelve of these works—the random number we use to divide our days—and they displayed plants in different stages of their life cycles: memento mori of sorts.

It’s funny how, obsessed with the ruthless rule of time over our existence, we humans project its authority onto objects such as the sun, or onto the movement of sand and water. I kept thinking about the relationship between the show’s two rooms: the first a speculative space with Fusilier’s paintings opening windows and doors to the outside of another time, a humanless future or past; the second oddly claustrophobic, as if inside a dimension consecrated to the consciousness of time, an endless accounting of hours and entropy.