Buenos Aires

Jorge Macchi: Perspectiva at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires

Maps, clocks, dictionaries, music sheets, signals, and words are all different resources we have to decode our reality. By living under a unified structure, we can rest assured that our messages will be understood. A sense of normality is reinforced. But what lies underneath these layers of language? Can we realize how reality is built around us? Do we know how to dismantle the rules of this daily game we play?

Jorge Macchi. Still Song, 2005; mirrored sphere, durlock walls, and fluorescent lights. Courtesy of MALBA.

Jorge Macchi. Still Song, 2005; mirrored sphere, durlock walls, and fluorescent lights. Courtesy of MALBA.

Perspectiva [“Perspective”] is a polysemic word that can refer to issues of representation, points of view, optical phenomena, and misleading or deceptive appearances of things. It is also the title of Jorge Macchi’s first retrospective show in his home country of Argentina at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA). The word “perspective” and its many meanings exemplify Macchi’s varied body of works, produced between 1990 and 2016. Instead of following chronological order, the exhibition is constructed around glimpses, recurrent topics, and tools that the artist has worked with. The intersection of visual, verbal, and musical language is pivotal in understanding Macchi’s artistic production, which is characterized by a constant disruptive feeling that energetically exercises a critique toward manipulated communication structures and daily stagnation.

Buenos Aires Tour (2004) is the piece that welcomes visitors into the exhibition. On the wall, a vinyl map of the city with anecdotes and photographs of various routes allows viewers to interact with the different experiences of this city. In a display case by the map lies an artist book made in collaboration with Edgardo Rudnitzky (sound) and María Negroni (text). There is a reconsideration of urban and public spaces by its users, where collective memory acquires an important value for creatively reshaping the past, as well as forging their identities. Apart from exploring the cartography of Buenos Aires, the artist creates new world orders by altering mappa mundi representations. In Missing Points (2007), Macchi has cut out rectangles from a paper map, creating a loose geometrical reticle. The representation of the world is barely visible, torn apart by the simplest gesture.

Jorge Macchi. Buenos Aires Tour, 2004; in collaboration with Edgardo Rudnitzky (sound) and María Negroni (text); book-object composed by Buenos Aires guides, map, dictionary, poster, mass book, postcards, stamps, and CD-ROM. Courtesy of MALBA.

Jorge Macchi, in collaboration with Edgardo Rudnitzky (sound) and María Negroni (text). Buenos Aires Tour, 2004; book-object composed by Buenos Aires guides, map, dictionary, poster, mass book, postcards, stamps, and CD-ROM. Courtesy of MALBA.

Daily communication and mass media are tackled by the artist in a set of works that use newspapers as its core material. In Speakers’ Corner (2002), a piece made of paper and pins, Macchi removes words from all quoted material, leaving cut-out rectangular frames bookended by quotation marks. These empty frames are arranged as a collage, in which direct speech bubbles establish a silent dialogue. Speakers’ Corner contraposes to Diary (2016), a piece specifically designed for this show. Quotes from local celebrities, published in magazines, newspapers, and tabloids, are recontextualized and pasted into a personal diary. The intimacy that is embodied in the diary as an object is corrupted by its artificial content. The megalomaniac and outrageous declarations place a disturbing and ridiculous narrative, far from a confessional tone.

Monoblock (2013) reflects on obituaries as a social convention. Macchi has removed the text from the obituary section of the newspaper, leaving only cut frames and tiny symbols that indicate the deceased’s religion. By juxtaposing many of these sheets, a structure of a building appears. The absence of names and dates delineates an architectonic silhouette, a place to inhabit once the mortal remains are gone.

Jorge Macchi. Monoblock, 2013; paper. Courtesy of MALBA.

Jorge Macchi. Monoblock, 2013; paper. Courtesy of MALBA.

In Cuerpos Sin Vida [“Lifeless Bodies”] (2003), monumentality plays an important role. This long collage is made of minuscule cut-out words extracted from crime notes. Every story is spread horizontally across the white frame, but there’s a common denominator in all of them: the phrase el cuerpo sin vida (“lifeless body”). Murders and tragedies tend to be told with a standard vocabulary, but by grouping its repeated appearance on the articles, the act of remembrance acquires a new body. From a distance, viewers can appreciate this newly formed organic shape, which they must approach to read the details of each crime story.

 

Jorge Macchi, Cuerpos sin vidas, 2003; paper. Courtesy of MALBA.

Jorge Macchi, Cuerpos Sin Vidas, 2003; paper. Courtesy of MALBA.

In an early set of works from the ’90s, Macchi’s explorations lean toward Gothic and Renaissance art as paradigmatic periods for perspective. His pictorial exercises include alien objects in order to alter perception. The artist also suggests optical effects with simple yet powerful formal resolutions, like in the 1991 installation Perspectiva and in the 2007 piece, Hotel.

In Perspectiva, Jorge Macchi becomes a cartographer, an architect, a composer, and a poet. The familiar materials used are mundane and fragile. Newspaper sheets are thin and breakable; glass is frail; and sounds are ephemeral. Everything is close, yet distorted. By combining languages and shifting expectations, Macchi invites visitors to constantly establish a dialogue between his artworks and their lives. In the subtleness of the works lies a disruptive strength—a powerful agent that has the ability to subvert conceptions and fracture daily structures without making a sound.

Jorge Macchi: Perspectiva is on view at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, through May 23, 2016.

Share