The work of Alejandro Cesarco moves within the borders of conceptual art, as a research project that questions the very idea of narration and the origin of the conditions which enable a text and the mechanisms of its process of meanings. The focus of Cesarco’s work is the autonomy of the text and the modality of the relationship between work and spectator, between the written word and the reader. The act of artistic production itself is for the artist based in the act of reading, and all of his work revolves around problems of hermeneutics and translation, as these can be observed from the privileged perspective of literature.
Index (a Novel) (2003) is an alphabetical index of the names and topics of a book which has never been written, but which is presented by Cesarco in its canonical form, complete with proposed pages. Index is the paradoxical hypotheses of a reverse reading, a classification of names, topics and situations that justify themselves in an autonomous way, independently of the volume to which they are meant to refer. This work by Cesarco consists of a container space, the “detailed index” designed by the artist, which itself becomes the content, a form of narrative hypertext able to trap the reader in an infinite exercise of references, allusions and intuitions. Index can be read by starting from the single parts and moving towards the whole, an attempt to reconstruct the book to which it could belong. In doing so, the artist manages to unify the terms that compose the whole by combining the individual entries – or perhaps in a more anarchic way by trying to incorporate the suggestions of the registered voices without any concern of providing a final synthesis. Heterogeneous registers, however, tend to implicate and overlap, in order to allow the profile of a private existence to emerge from the background, elements of an eventual autobiography of the artist himself.
Everness (2008) is a film structured in sections, composed by Cesarco via means of a script that weaves together five different chapters, which oscillate between literary issues, political history and scenes of domestic intimacy. The structure of the work begins with an opening monologue by the male actor on the significance of tragedy within Western literature and the appearance of the tragic moment as a cultural archetype. The reference to the protagonists Gretta and Gabriel from James Joyce’s short story “The Dead” from the collection Dubliners is emblematic of this approach – the husband and wife discover that they are completely divided by their memories and thus destined to diverge irretrievably from one other. Dividing the narrative and speculative moments of the film are two songs. The first is a song derived from the Brazilian Tropicaliá movement of the 1960s, an artistic and musical movement that arose after the military coup d’etat of 1964 and which was active during the subsequent repression of political and civic rights in Brazil. The second song is a piece from the Spanish Civil War, a heroic anthem of the sacrifices of those who fought for the freedom of Spain between 1936 and 1939. The final section of the film displays the silence and wordlessness of a couple at the breakfast table, which conveys the image of an uncertain and indefinite moment, a pacified resolution of conflicts and contrasts, or more probably just the sign of the actual ending of the relationship between the man and the woman.
The literary echoes continue in The Gift and the Retribution (2011), a photographic diptych formed by the covers of two volumes: “Los adioses” by Juan Carlos Onetti and the “Poemas de amor” of Idea Vilariño, two central figures of Uruguayan literature during the 20th Century. The two books display cross-referencing dedications, as “Los adioses” is dedicated to Vilariño, who on her part dedicated “Poemas de amor” to Onetti. Cesarco gives priority to the dedication, as a tool that is able to reveal the subterranean connections which approximate artistic courses and biographical stories – which are often very close to each other and at the same time distant from each other.
The figure of Onetti is also hinted at in Methodology (2011), a sophisticated dialogue of a couple sitting around a table, focusing on the space of the unspoken. Written words, letters and silent communication form the basis of a dialogue between two protagonists in this work. They attempt to define the borders between private and public space, between what ought to be spoken and that which should not be said. In this way, the dialogue between the couple measures the space of private emotions and of their negotiation regarding relationships with others. Not everything that is said can be dissolved in perfectly comprehensible elements, and the work alludes to the space of irremediable opacity within the dialogue between the two characters.