Alejandro Cesarco

A Portrait, A Story, And An Ending


With the project «A Portrait, a Story, and an Ending» by Uruguay-born artist Alejandro Cesarco (born in Montevideo in 1975, lives and works in New York), the designated public library space in Kunsthalle Zürich doubles as an exhibition space. For his presentation Cesarco has assembled three very recent independent works that take up various literary modes and are further spatially linked by the suggestion of a common narrative. The exhibition marks the beginning of a series of artistic interventions in the future public library of the Kunsthalle Zürich which will explore the use of this space and extend its allocated meaning.

Alejandro Cesarco’s works are characterised by conceptual strategies. In his text-based works, photographs, videos, artist books and installations, Cesarco combines language with images, constructs narratives and creates thematic references to popular culture, art history and literature. He raises and explores questions about the relationship between reading and looking, the interweaving of memory and history, fact and fiction, authorship and subjectivity, the ways different narrative structures generate meaning and the ways in which meaning is felt.

Julie Ault, artist, writer, curator and co-founder of the New York collective Group Material, which existed from 1979 to 1996, is the subject of A Printed Portrait of Julie Ault (2013). The work is a reference to Untitled (Portrait of Julie Ault) (1991) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, in which a series of names and events followed by years are presented frieze-like along the ceiling and refer to important moments in Ault’s life. In contrast with this “portrait” based on temporal events, Cesarco creates a literary portrait of Ault using excerpts from texts penned by her. In the presentation, which is reminiscent of a family frame, the artist constructs a genealogy and identifies a modern form of autobiography in Ault’s critical writing.

The video work Shortly After Breakfast She Received The News (2013) presents a micro-narrative that focuses on the moment shortly after the arrival of some undisclosed news – a moment in which something ends and something else begins. The nature of the news and the associated consequences remain open as is the reaction of the suggested female character: what the camera shows is what is left behind.

Cesarco has an ongoing project in which he creates indexes for books he has not yet written and probably never will. The six-part work Index (An Orphan) (2012) is the fourth in the series and refers to the experience of mourning, the loss of childhood, and becoming an orphan as an adult. In it, the artist assembles a wide range of references and topics, for example: “delusions, 19, 55, 63”, “Sadness, 40, 80”, “Paco Rabanne (perfume), 76” and “sail boats, 13, 70, 88”, children’s films like “Wizard of Oz, The (Fleming), 32” and “Rescuers, The (Disney), 10”, which are accompanied by the names of philosophers, artists, actors, directors and psychiatrists.

Alejandro Cesarco was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2011 for his presentation at the Art Statements sector of Art Basel and he represented Uruguay at the 54th Biennale di Venezia.