cae sur a
A Transcendent Pause
Óscar Castrellón | Selwa Sweidan
Curated by Laura Maurer
UC Irvine, University Art Gallery July 12-26, 2014
Saturday, July 12th, 4-8pm
6pm live dance performance by Crystal Sepúlveda
An exhibition marking the culmination of the year-long
Artist in Residency program at UC Irvine.
The representative image of the 2014 Artists in Residence exhibition is a concrete poem, a poem in which a word does what it means, in a sense performing, or visually representing, its own meaning. Performance is a key aspect of both Óscar Castrellón and Selwa Sweidan’s work for the exhibition, which is the culmination of a year-long research and studio practice program. The artwork performs and then the viewers play their part.
A caesura is a poet’s technique that drives a poem’s rhythm away from its meter. Meter being an expectation for the poem, a caesura is a pause in a line of verse dictated by sense of speech rather than metrics. Derived from the Latin word for cutting, a caesura creates a break, a stop in the flow of sound. In this exhibition, Castrellón and Sweidan create pieces that cut; from Castrellón’s representational cutting of the concrete that holds in the Los Angeles River to the digital “cutting” of film images to manipulate and reorder them in Sweidan’s work, to the figurative cutting of time both artists achieve in creating a space in which to pause. To think. To reflect and break out of our usual flow.
A video diptych of the Los Angeles River serves as the backdrop for Óscar Castrellón’s prototype tableau. In this new work titled, Yang-na, we are invited to walk among the native tribe of Tongva as a family engages in the activities of daily life and, by doing so, we become part of the revitalization of the waterway that was central to their lives. Invited to look backwards through the representations of the lost culture of the Tongva, we also look forward as a movement to revitalize the Los Angeles River is currently in motion. The silhouetted figures are almost ghostly, representative of their lost language and nearly-forgotten tribe; yet they are also hopeful because to remember the past is to restore the past.
In Selwa Sweidan’s new body of work titled Simultaneously 1, 3, 5 and 9, the focal point is a film which investigates the spatial qualities of motion. Rooted in mythology and brought to life by collaboration, the film is further supported by printed images, an accordion-style book, and a scent installation. From referencing our deep-seated connection with myth and movement, to including the viewer in the ritualistic wafting of earthy scents from vessels, Sweidan’s work juxtaposes the ephemeral (plant material and scent) with the timeless (narrative dance with a 200-year lineage and scent’s power to evoke memory).