From Vision to Perception

Taking its name from Rachel Levitsky’s novel The Story Of My Accident Is Ours, where the characters have been affected by an unforeseen disaster, Someone Like Me is a group show at Murray Guy featuring work by Alejandro Cesarco, Sarah Charlesworth, Ellie Ga, Sharon Hayes, Walid Raad and Lucy Skaer.

The works in the show give a feeling that something’s missing, that they’re not exposing all the information that is required to understand them. In doing so, the spectator has to extrapolate what is in front of them into an imagined scene with the information that is given, like trying to re-create the world from a photograph, the only information there being what lies inside the frame. It is in this collaborative effort artist-work-spectator that the finished piece is created, the new perceptive space that happens in that moment becomes the defining interaction. This is not to say that the viewer’s perception does not play a part in all art, but it seems to be a driving force behind the work presented.

This is most evident in Alejandro Cesarco’s The Two Stories, a 9 minute video which pans across an empty room, showing the site and the furniture within it, its decoration, and even a view of the outside through the windows. As this is shown, the narrator tells of a time he was reading one of his stories in this same room before a crowd, and recalls details of the people that were there, what they were doing, his anxiety throughout his performance; how he felt at that specific moment. Through this juxtaposition of the empty room and the story of the event that took place there, albeit at a different time, both realities collide into one within the spectator thus creating a third one where the imagination places the people and the situation being narrated into this very empty room.

A couple of blocks away, David Zwirner shows Stan Douglas’ latest work, Luanda-Kinshasa. It depicts a recreation of the Columbia Records Studio, a legendary studio in the late 20th century that was situated in an abandoned Armenian church in New York City, where musicians as prominent as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Pink Floyd recorded some of their best known work . Douglas uses actors to stage a recording session of a fictional band from the 70’s, the most obvious references being the costumes and items that are lying around like vintage cigarette packs and the instantly recognizable Anthora, a greek-themed coffee cup used all throughout New York City.

I was laying down on the floor of the big, dark room where the piece was being shown, rather enjoying myself. It really was amazing music, I stayed for about an hour listening to the jam session. Fender Rhodes keyboards, Moog synthesizers, tabla, guitars, bass guitars, and different kinds of drums and percussion instruments show the rich and varied cultural heritage that influenced the music of the time. A quite enjoyable experience, where I kept labeling anything that passed through my mind as thought and letting it drift away, focusing on the here and now that this film created for me.

The simplicity of the piece was very successful, a single-channel projection with sound. It dispenses of convoluted methods of presentation in favor of an approach with specific clarity, although it is perhaps this simplicity and clarity that failed to create within me a level of intellectual engagement with the work similar to what I experienced with Someone Like Me.

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