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"Pablo Helguera: Swan Song"
2005-04-22 until 2005-05-28
Julia Friedman Gallery
USA United States of America
Julia Friedman Gallery is proud to present, "Swan Song," a solo exhibition
of new work by New York based artist Pablo Helguera. "Swan Song" is
comprised of a group of artworks and performances that collectively posit
the artist's elaborate theory about finitude. Through appropriation of
academic means and language, the artist's earnest, yet eccentric theory,
termed, "endingness" suggests a creative state that is triggered by the
personal confrontation with the ending of things.
In a 100-page book that constitutes one of the works in the exhibition, the
artist puts forth a theory of creativity based on the art of memory. While
loosely following the spirit of early XXth century manifestos, this theory
is rooted in a combination of cognitive theories, phenomenological
discourse, and Hermetic thought. The works included in the show, which
implement various aspects of these ideas, touch on subjects such as the
relationship between memory and architecture, perspectivist theory and
Helguera treats several of the artworks in the show as "case studies," such
as "Acolman" and "Conservatory of Dead Languages." "Conservatory of Dead
Languages" is an installation of wax cylinder recordings of dying
languages. Using an also near-extinct devise, Thomas Alva Edison's
wax-cylinder phonograph, the artist has recorded a variety of songs and
texts of languages that will likely disappear in the next half century. By
creating a group of obsolete recordings of a dying language, Helguera
points to the ironies, contradictions, and mythologies of the notion of
"Acolman" is a ceiling installation and video work that is derived from a
local belief regarding one of the earliest Augustine monasteries in Mexico,
built in 1539. According to the inhabitants of the town, the echoes of the
monks' voices are still trapped within the walls of the chapel, and were
first heard during a restoration of the church's frescoes in the 1940s. The
artist revisits this story to create a work about architectural space and
its location within real and invented memory.
"Swan Song" opens on April 22 with the gallery exhibition as well as a
special performance involving a full orchestra playing live at 601 West
26th St, Room M227. The first performance at 6:30 pm, was composed by the
artist himself, followed by the recreation of the final movement of
Franz-Joseph Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony, No.45 (a work in which, by
specification of the composer, the musicians gradually exit the stage until
only one violin is left). The opening night performance will be performed
by the Mexican American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alondra de la
"Swan Song" exemplifies Pablo Helguera's ongoing investigation into the
relationship between history and legacy, cultural production and language.
Helguera develops narratives and interpretive scripts that fictionalize the
real and inform his intermixing of performance, literature and visual arts.
This is the first solo exhibition of artist Pablo Helguera (1971) in New
York since his presentation of "Parallel Lives" at The Museum of Modern
Art, New York/Gramercy Theater, in 2003. Helguera has exhibited or
performed at venues such as; Royal College of Art, London; 8th Havana
Biennal, Havana; Shedhalle, Zurich; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New
York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; IFA Galerie, Bonn; Tokyo Metropolitan Art
Museum, Tokyo; The Bronx Museum, New York; Artist Space, New York; and
Sculpture Center, New York. His work has been reviewed in the New York
Times, Tema Celeste, Art Nexus, NY Arts, Chicago Tribune, amongst others.
Helguera is the recipient of a 2005 Creative Capital Grant.