Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adler Guerrier's Everyday Travails

Alfredo Triff

This review will be unusually schematic. The reason? After much work, I lost my final draft. First, stupor, then, frustration, hence, resignation. One loves these wordy babies. Surprisingly, they have the ability to come back. If form changes, content remains.

Adler Guerrier's "Everyday Travails" is a show of prints, photos and sculptures, at David Castillo Gallery in Wynwood. But before we go into the exhibition proper, let's do a bit of history:

Around 2001, Guerrier explored the figure of the flâneur. In these early shots we'd see of the artist dressed as a businessman, carrying a briefcase and aimlessly walking through the empty Miami downtown streets. They expressed an intriguing balance between autonomy and social stereotype. (None of these photos appear in the show).

Thinking is walking, walking is thinking. But the experience is too fleeting, which brings to mind the wanderer in Breton's L'Amour Fou. The flâneur, a sort of bourgeois proto-tourist, cares about space but he doesn't have time for "place."1

Why? Otherness is costly. Energy loss: Something the flâneur's aesthetic solipsism would not allow.2 The shot above present a different concern for posture, orientation and feel. "Where" is never "there." "Down here" is something else: For example, a homeless person resting on his cardboard "bed" on a street corner, reaching for the cigarette box at arm's length, near the border of the street shoulder. A momentary promise of smoke and self-absorption. This is the right place. "Standing up" is undesirable. It confronts the self with the expanse of a cold and soulless avenue.

Let's hypothecate: How does an ant feel  its environment? Leaves, sticks and pebbles in its way do not amount to "rugged." The insect navigates over -and around- all of these obstacles in an effortless way. Sort of walking on two coordinated set of tripods. Guerrier's low-angle shots suggest mongrel scenarios made up of structures and identities in parasitic coexistence; a promising shift.

By 2005, the Haitian-American artist was toying with his own version of psychogeography. Guerrier moved away from 3-D-"drifts" into a non-hierarchical shifting of lived patterns "projected" onto a flat surface. Dérive required physical presence in the analysis of everyday life through the art of juxtaposition. How to sum up the experience of lived space in real-time? By bringing time back, by accepting without prejudice a cohabitation made up of mongrelisations between layers of experience. Thus,

The hexagon appears! It's a mark that Guerrier repeats over and over in newer contexts. It works as pattern, shooting target, abstract logo, no-form, foreground/background, graphological link, lattice replicator. Guerrier's new prints incorporated a superimposition of images where space and time were implicitly present without texture overlapping. The kind of abstract faux collage where traces of experience hang together as congealed animation.    

Coming back to "Everyday Travails," I had a problem comparing the intense realization of the print (above), with the sparsely chromatic prints presented in the show.

With the possible exception of this one (below). Untitled (cloaked or mass shield protection).

Take this print from the group, (below). It looks "studied": ornamental, not incremental. More casual, less informative. Symbols float "as if" for the sake of aesthetic balance, not of "real" need. It lacks the rigor and richness of information that characterize Guerrier's best work.

The installation is the marrow of the show: Each piece interpenetrating the other. Below, Untitled (wood mdf and plexiglass, 44x12x16"). What's that object, with hexagonal stickers, standing on stilts?

Here is a fragment of my review of Guerrier's 2005 "entry/loss/return": 

I've been interested in Guerrier's work,which has changed from photos of Miami's downtown at night: This is more like a superimposition of events, black blotches and green tempera splashes (with directional tentacles) moving near the background of the metropolis's silhouette. Amid these images you find linear sentence fragments, silent remarks as if coming from a lost century of ideologies. Then one discovers this conspicuous cantilevered solid structure -a sort of corbel- that the artist draws in most of his pieces. I read a bit into it: In architecture, cantilevers separate themselves from the ground; they are singular, impulsive. What's more important, they don't subjugate the territory.

"Everyday Travails'" shortcomings point beyond itself.3 Now, we have Guerrier's "corbels," hexagonal sign/objects + stamping, which simultaneously point as signal, effect and emotion. A future dialogue between pieces like these in a more psycho-geographical environment could stimulate a robust logic of action, even political libido: repetitive and receptive, permeable and fluctuant. More importantly, it could further develop "place"4 and links beyond place with relaxed rigor.

1"Without place there would be no place for language".-- Joseph Grange's Dwelling Place and the Environment, (Columbia University Press, 1989). According to Merlau Ponty, "place" serves as the precondition of all existing things: "To be is to be in place." Merlau Ponty's The Phenomenology of Perception (Humanities Press, 1962). 2The problem may have to do with an inherent tension between the ideologies of "time" and "space." The reason the flâneur doesn't pay attention to place is the timely quality of his experience in the "now" and its possible enjoyment of memories (think of Proust). As early as 1964, Guy Debord expressed dissatisfaction with the idea of  false consciousness of time. Henri Lefebvre built on it for a deeper analysis in his 1974 treatise, Production of Space. For Lefebvre, Capitalism is driven by a false consciousness of space. So, praxis shouldn't concentrate on regaining time as historical time, but on the reappropriation of space.  3"Everyday Travails" would've looked better in a smaller place, (or a smaller section of the gallery). The overall energy of the print/photo/installation assemblage, which happens to be Guerrier's forte, was needlessly spent. 4I keep bringing "place" because of its importance in Guerrier's overall art project. All the pics of "Everyday Travails" are courtesy of David Castillo Gallery.


Anonymous said...

paso ficha de domino...

Pedro Vizcaino

Anonymous said...

Is the show still up?

A.T. said...

Yes, the show is up, but not for long.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I prefer the prints to the sculptures.

Anonymous said...

Adler's work has motured but I still think he is strugling with vocabulary.

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