Ortega - Visual Essay

Casino by Damián Ortega

Currently in the Malmö Konsthall exhibition hall, Damián Ortega´s exhibition Casino is on display. It will be until the 25th of September 2016. It is a mixed exhibition with visual art, sculptures, performance art, and video.

The main theme of the exhibition is combination and separation, how things are perceived and how they are connected, or, in the words of the exhibition catalog (my translation):

Material and energy, acceleration and dispersion, everyday forms, and objects that explode and implode, images of a dynamic and vital whole where time, movement, and sound overlap and interact with each other.

The VW Beetle plays an important role in the exhibition, not the least through the work Cosmic Thing that basically is a physical edition of an exploded drawing of such a car, hanging from the ceiling.

One thought I couldn’t let go of when seeing it all, was how recursively virtual things can get when the artist makes a photo of a sculpture, put it on a poster (the work in the main picture, Visual Essay – a total of 50 posters) with added citations from various interviews and publications… and then the audience is walking around with their backs to the actual objects in the room, looking at these posters and thinking about the world they describe.

And I make a photo of the photos, add it to a post on this blog, abstracting it all even further – with the real life well hidden behind my back.

Put in relation to the debate of what is real in photography – people sometimes getting a bit upset when seeing a “photoshopped” photo, claiming that it is not “real” – I cannot help thinking that, honestly, nothing about a photo is real. The object you photograph is selected, you have either setup or waited for the right background and situation to appear, you have decided upon light, bokeh, and many other technical things, and out of it comes a small piece of fabricated dream. This dream can then be further changed by the camera itself, as well as the lens that both add their peculiarities and ways of seeing to the dream – and some software and restrictions in the camera and the selected file format, which also contribute.

When you then process this dream in order to display it to others, you either print it, enlarge it for a large screen, shrink it for a small screen, or in some other way adjust it, including changes in colors and contrast, as these are specific for the display device.

Now, if there somewhere on the way to displaying the dream in the shape of a heavily manipulated fraction of a selected bit of what might have once been your reality is a computer program involved for adding or removing or changing details… how can that make it anymore unreal than it already is? A photo will always be an abstraction from reality, always a selected fraction and a manipulated expression. It will always be a piece of art – not a piece of reality.

Also – if a piece of visual art can depict a sculpture: where is then the borderline between these art forms?

I like exhibitions that inspire one to think 😉

Damián Ortega: Knots 3 in the middle, Moby Dick in the background and a work I didn't catch the name of in the foreground. On the wall in the back, you can see part of the Visual Essay.
Damián Ortega: Knots 3 in the middle, Moby Dick in the background and a work I didn’t catch the name of in the foreground. On the wall in the back, you can see part of the Visual Essay.

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