Marguerite Duras' India Song

New Commissions

Marguerite Duras' India Song

Alejandro Cesarco, Daniel Link
Curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy

January 14, 2006–March 18, 2006

Marguerite Duras’ India Song features a new installation by Alejandro Cesarco commissioned by Art in General. With this work, Cesarco continues making use of conceptualism as an investigation of the experience of meaning. His exhibition is part of the second installment of Art in General’s new commissions program that comprehensively supports New York-based artists in the development and presentation of challenging new projects.

Marguerite Duras’ India Song is an installation consisting of a two-channel video projected onto an angled wall within the gallery space where three discrete ceiling-fans hang and slowly rotate. The gallery is partially painted deep red, and is primarily lit by the video projections. Another element of this installation is a new text by the Argentine writer Daniel Link. The text, in Spanish and with English translation, is printed on bond paper in an unlimited edition available to the public.

For the video component of the installation, the artist uses selected footage from India Song (1975) and the formal strategy of voix-off that is characteristic to this and other films by the French writer Marguerite Duras (1914-1996). In Cesarco’s video, a combination of establishing shots from the film, varying from building facades to intimate corners within the dwellings, is accompanied by a scripted voice-over that retells an experience of India Song. Written by Cesarco and narrated in English by a woman, this text performs four subtly different types of readings about and over the video. And yet, many other narratives can be found or produced between those lines.

Cesarco approached Link, a young and prolific poet and novelist living in Buenos Aires, to engage with him in retelling Duras’ India Song. As a writer, Link is interested in the moments when the reading experience involves discerning whether a text is a piece of news, a letter, a poem, or a novel. This moment, which the author refers to as an interstice created by the hesitancy of texts, is rooted in his response to Cesarco’s invitation. Link’s contribution is a short dialogue between two unnamed voices discussing the film.

Marguerite Duras’ India Song addresses narrative and translation, recurrent subjects in Cesarco’s work, as well as an inter-subjective address to what the artists refers to as pretext: an operation in which an existing text is the primary material for the work. By staging a number of repetitions of the original text—a play by Duras, later her film, a reading of it by Cesarco, another by Link, the audience’s own, and so on—Cesarco wishes to highlight the ways in which meaning is assigned and displaced, and how memory and language re-contextualize meaning. Marguerite Duras’ India Song foregrounds something commonly accepted as an aspect of reading: if the meaning of texts is not sealed, if reading and re-reading fails to relate the same text, both for the writer as for the readers, a text is incessantly in flux.

Alejandro Cesarco, born in Montevideo, Uruguay, (1975) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York since 1998. Shortly after studying economy at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, he moved to New York to pursue a degree in fine arts from New York University, where he graduated with an MFA in 2000. Art in General commissioned and exhibited Alejandro’s newest video art installation, Marguerite Duras’ India Song (2006). Aside from this, Cesarco has had a number of solo-exhibitions, including Some Recent Examples (2006), Murray Guy, New York, NY; Unrest (2004), Miroslav Kraljevic gallery, Zagreb, Croatia; and Cuentos Completos (2001), Colección Engelman-Ost, Montevideo, Uruguay. Group exhibitions include: 2nd Biennial of Young Artists (2006), Bucharest, Romania; Rub Out the Word (2005), Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn, NY; No lo llames performance (2004) and S-Files (2002), El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY; and Artists in the Marketplace (2000), Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY. In 2006-07, he is the young, visual artist recipient of the renowned Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Rolex.

Essay by Luis Camnitzer
“Alejandro Cesarco: Inventories, Influences and Identities”
Excerpt from Art in General New Commissions Books, Volume IX, 2006

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Marguerite Duras, Alejandro Cesarco presented a re-installation of the original Commission Marguerite Duras’ India Song on 15–26 April, 2014 at Murray Guy, NYC.