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Jonier Marin – Active Work

11.09 – 31.10 / 2015

Henrique Faria Gallery, New York

(…) I am left with the idea that art is a no man’s land, the green field of spring! It is Muteness, or at most, the question mark resulting from the action called art —that is to say, what the artist does—, and of the absence of action, also called art—in other words, what the artist does not do.
Jonier Marín

As an artist, Jonier Marín seems to have focused on revisiting the paradoxes entailed by the notion of that which can be communicated in art. The brief quote used at the beginning of this text has been extracted from a number of written documents that he has produced throughout his career with a twofold goal: drawing attention to the need to step away from the idea of purpose in the art work, and above all, reconsidering the dimension of experience that art generates in its viewers. Marín’s interest involves communicating what cannot be communicated. This ambition can be related to the attitudes of a number of artists who, during the 21st century, have chosen to defy the modernist demand for authorial expression, favoring instead a posture closer to silence. However, as Susan Sontag states in her famous essay The Aesthetics of Silence, published over half a century ago, “The exemplary modern artist’s choice of silence isn’t often carried to this point of final simplification, so that he becomes literally silent. More typically, he continues speaking, but in a manner that his audience can’t hear.” Sontag’s idea that some contemporary artists have lowered their voices implies that as viewers, we need to sharpen our senses if we are to perceive what is being said ever so subtly; it means that we have to be willing to deal with situations that are barely intelligible or works that elude visibility or materiality.

The vocation for silence in Jonier Marín’s works also involves their genesis by means of procedures or methodologies that mediate the experience of the world from a transpersonal standpoint. One such channel is photography, which he has chosen not so much because of its formal or expressive qualities, but because of its capacity for quoting or bringing up a given experience of the world. The evidence that the things of this world leave inside a photographic image has allowed artists to find connections with similar signs that are already part of the real, and which have a comparable force when it comes to bringing viewers closer to certain material, physical and cultural dimensions of their experience. As observed by semiologists, photographs are analogous to shadows, odors, reflections or traces– like footprints across a floor, dust gathering on a surface, or the wet rings that a glass filled with icy water can leave on a table. Photographs are able to bring to the present moment the unseen actions that occurred before the shot was taken. Similarly, the above-mentioned material traces let us know, albeit without our full awareness, that something generated them at a prior point in time.

Using photography as a medium for artistic creation, Jonier Marín succeeds in bringing the latent universe into those signs of presence, which are connected to his pictures and, in turn, with circumstances or situations that expand the time that is concealed within them. With these photographs, Marín puts together sequences of images that he calls “Sets”, and creates heterogeneous temporalities that dwell within each separate image, but also meet in the interstices where the other images appear, thus originating new levels of meaning. Both anthropologists and linguists have asserted that the void space between the words that constitute a sentence is what allows such a sentence to have meaning for a reader. If we extrapolate this notion to Jonier Marín’s photographic “Sets”, we might say that it is precisely the space gravitating between one image and another that enables weaving the various interpretations that the viewers might suggest.

Jaime Ceron

Photos by Arturo Sánchez

This post is also available in: Spanish