The exhibition 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: Inventories, Influences and Identities by Luis Camnitzer