participating artists: ulises carrión, mariana castillo, rafael lozano-hemmer, rodrigo loyola, francis alÿs, carlos amorales, fernando llanos, pilar echezarreta, irene clouthier, cristian manzutto, and adolfo dávila.
from the press release (november, 2003):
«the videos presented in this selection were chosen using two constraints, the first nationality: unavoidable, given that mexico is the guest country in this edition of paris photo. the second —self-imposed— video as poetry: not in its content, but structurally, that is videos constructed and edited as if they were poems.
the idea of using poetical construction as a curatorial criteria started after a conversation with jorge volpi in which we wondered: if cinema as a narrative genre evolved from theatre to the novel, wouldn't video-art be the closest genre to poetry?... [click here to continue reading][click here to hide text] the title of this project comes from a poem by xavier villaurrutia: a beautiful play on words (a sea in which i know nothing, a sea in which i can't swim) unfortunately untranslatable into english.
the wordplay fits with the premises behind this video selection: on one hand, a sea (that of moving image) in which you can't swim (that doesn't follow the rules of the other moving image genre: there isn't always a narrative, etc.) an abstract sea, so to speak.
on the other hand, a reference to video itself as a sea (that of video as art, that of just video) in which i know nothing (in which little is understood, a genre still searching its place in the contemporary art world).
finally, this is a selection of videos. period. just in the same way that paris photo is just a photography fair: what kind of photography belongs in a photography fair? what distinguishes commercial photography from artistic photography? what makes a video, art? what makes a video a video, just the used media? if a photo is printed from a video frame, is it still a photo? if a video was originally made in film, is it still a video?
even though these works were firstly chosen by their use of video as an end, there are some videos (like that of the virtuous ulises carrión) conceived at first as a performance then shot in film; videos made from snapshots, computer images... and, of course, videos done without the use of a video camera.
the goal of un mar en el que no se nada is not the search for "poetry" as an abstract concept, a romantic vision of art that aims to transcend; its aim is to compare poetic construction —its use of words like images, like units that can or cannot hold a meaning in themselves— to video and the way in which it use images as words.
the above does not exclude, of course, the weak hope that keeps contemporary art alive: to find somehow, somewhere, poetry.»