Allora & Calzadilla: Performative Ellipses
Jimena Mendoza:Konstelovat

kurimanzutto, Mexico City

April 21, 2016

Allora & Calzadilla: Performative Ellipses
Jimena Mendoza:Konstelovat

April 7–May 7, 2016

Gob. Rafael Rebollar 94
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec
11850 Mexico City
: Tuesday–Thursday 11am–6pm, 
Friday–Saturday 11am–4pm

T +52 55 5256 2408

Performative Ellipses
Allora & Calzadilla 
After their 2009 debut exhibition at kurimanzutto, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla return with recent works that consider the voice in its diverse forms and its potential as a vehicle of meaning, thought, and presence.

Situated in the center of the gallery, the installation Intervals consists of reconfigured acrylic lecterns that serve as a sculptural support for propping up dinosaur bones to the corresponding height of their original locations within the skeletons of the respective animals. In place of a book or notes that a speaker usually relies on to deliver his/her speech, are the mineral remains of long extinct species—poetically transferring onto these otherwise mute objects the possibility of reading them as three-dimensional primary texts. The opacity of the dinosaur bones also draws attention to the hidden material narrative of the clear plastic podiums. Conventionally used to suggest transparency and accessibility to the ideas being conveyed in a speech, we tend to forget the objects’ petrochemical origins—derived from the decomposition of plants and animals that were buried in the earth’s crust in the same era as the dinosaurs. With the increasing knowledge of the hazardous and toxic effects of petrochemical products to the health of living beings and to the earth’s ecosystems, the installation conjures objects from the last mass extinction event to express a voice of conscience about our collective future.

Set amongst the installation Intervals is the performance Lifespan—a collaboration between the artists and the American composer David Lang, interpreted by the Mexico City based ÓNIX Ensemble. Three vocalists whistle toward a 4 billion year old rock that is suspended from the ceiling and, with the force of their breath, make it subtly swing like a pendulum. Once the performance is over, the ancient rock, which comes from a time when there were no living witnesses to the planet’s geological transformation, returns to its original stasis.

Exploring what can be made of the voice when language is left out is Interludes, a sound-based work that activates the physical site through the ethereal, ephemeral medium of breath. While exploring the audio recordings from the Sigma Sound Studios—founded in 1968 and strongly associated with the genre of “Philadelphia soul”—Allora & Calzadilla discovered that the breathing sounds from vocalists were commonly muted from the unmixed vocal recordings so as to go unheard in final mastered tracks. They decided to restore these omissions into an audio sequence and play them back over speakers that conjure the ghostly presence of the once-embodied singers.

Finally, in the gallery foyer is Solar Catastrophe consisting of broken fragments of polycrystalline silicon solar cells arranged within a geometric grid creating a gestalt pattern. The breaks, pauses, and gaps created within the figure/ground composition trace a boundary between nothingness and signification and conjure an echoing voice that allows these inanimate objects to speak the ellipsis.

Chris Sharp invites Jimena Mendoza to kurimanzutto

Possessing a penchant for applied arts, craft and design, Mendoza works primarily with glazed ceramics, collage and drawing. Until recently, her iconography has been drawn predominantly from indigenous cultures and Mexican handicraft, which she filters through her own idiosyncratic vision, and thus renders up a deliberately pseudo-anthropological perspective on the evolution of culture. 

For her exhibition at kurimanzutto, Mendoza continues in this same mode, expanding it to include a strange and bewitching iconography. The artist has created a series of small, ceramic glazed sculptures whose imagery issues from a number of disparate sources. These range from pre-Hispanic artifacts to former Eastern European depictions of futurism, space travel to German expressionist cinema, as well as continental modernism. Coming from the Czech verb to constellate, the word is of interest to Mendoza not only because of its descriptive function but also due to the possibility of it being interpreted as a proper noun—as if the Konstelovat were actually a being and these objects were his/her properties. The stuff of a wholly personal and idiosyncratic anthropology, this work is at once classical, in terms of how it is made—glazed ceramic—and utterly contemporary, in so far as such radical cultural hybrids seem most possible in the 21st century. As full of contradiction as they are of unlikely juxtaposition, these sculptures contain and synthesize a series of incongruous spaces and times, dreaming the future of a bygone past as much as they fluidly and subjectively concretize an elusive and fleeting present.

–Chris Sharp

For additional information, please contact: 
Julia Villaseñor, press [​at​] / T +52 55 5256 2408