One to Watch: Alberto Careaga Comments

*Vincent Meyers comments on Alberto Careaga's recent studio work.


When Careaga gave his MFA lecture, the ideas in his work seemed to have been communicated in a theorem-like way. The pieces were self-contained and materially perfect, to the effect that thinking of a literal residential space and its relation to familiarity, intimacy, and temporal decay/inversion wasn't interrupted by the piece evoking anything else. If a piece existed to convey change through distortion or decay of a familiar type of structure or impression of space it did so as a self-contained construction that was nearly an abstraction in its neatness. That’s what I mean by theorem-like. The premises of each statement are materials, colors, and forms used in residential architecture, and they’re distorted in a straightforward way (I mean the analogs are straightforward—walls, ceilings, scale, spatial recession aren’t anything other than those things).


untitled work in CASP Studio Space


Careaga doesn’t address anything that hasn’t been addressed before. But in treating house, home, intimacy, and the distance that comes with memory (which is nothing if not opaque), he was able to bring some clarity to the problem by rejecting the complication that comes from found object and assemblage, choosing to work instead in clean, immaculate forms.


untitled work in CASP Studio Space


In the untitled work in the CASP Studio Space, the most obvious change is the rejection of the self-contained idea. Many of the original ingredients are still there—materials used in residential construction (plaster being the only possible exception, but I think it works as a stand-in for melted drywall)—but the piece makes no attempt to be self-contained in the notions it calls up. I think that’s what I mean when I said that if the previous works were theorems, that this could be called a lemma. The construction is intentionally messy and discontinuous. Bricks hold up one side and a 2x4 holds up another. The string-membrane doesn’t seem to ‘need’ to project from where it does (it seems like sort of an add-on). The white plaster fades to red on the edges (is it like fire? Blood? Some arbitrary boundary?) and one edge is blackened as if burned. The piece seems to be asking questions about how the lives (of people, implicitly) interact with the decay or destruction of a structure the (implicit) people interacted intimately with (intimately because it was house-like). These questions proceed a level past his previous work, in that they involve people other than the viewer. With something immaculate, the viewer can project whatever is in her mind onto the object; this piece calls up the complexity of many interactions of many people with a structure.


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