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  • Letter: to Jorge Macchi

Letter: to Jorge Macchi

Philippe Van Cauteren, catalogue of the exhibition Music Stand Still at S.M.A.K | 2011

It´s been ten years since I met you. We first shook hands at 1000 Florida St. The city was of course Buenos Aires. The meeting led to your participation in the Bienal Ceara America in Fortaleza (2002) soon after. We jointly decided to show Musica Incidental. Circumstances actually led you to create an intimate and subtle in situ piece of ‘wall art’ instead of Musica Incidental. Fuegos de artificio (Fireworks) is made from a heap of nails and three small, cheap desk lamps. The nails are hammered into the wall and the end of the shadow of the first nail determines the position of the second nail, and so on. This creates a play of shadow-lines that lose themselves like fireworks as they spread over the wall from a core. Gently moving the desk lamps makes the work disappear. At the time Fuegos de artificio felt to me like an intimate sketch, a poetic gesture. In the same year you created a piece with the same title in which footsteps on the wall burst from each other like fireworks. The piece in Fortaleza has stayed with me; it seems as though I still have it in my pocket. The alert simplicity of the piece, its small mysterious brilliance, has bound me just like the shadows seemed to hold the nails together. Town plans, death notices, everyday objects, glass, sound, shadow, light... these are just a few of the materials you used in your work. But actually they are secondary. They are ‘light’ but pregnant bearers of consistent conceptual thinking. Your cartography is made up of connections, of intimate sensations, of the discovery of the tragedy of the absent. Your thoughts are not concerned with a city skyline but with the areas where a street becomes a wall, a wall a house, a house a shadow of another and so on. By affirming the ephemeral, by holding on to the temporary, you illustrate the vulnerable poetry in the world that surrounds us. The narration of coincidence meets the compulsion of the indeterminate. The things you show us exist, but you consider them as images, thoughts, forms or circumstances. Sometimes the simplicity is shocking, alert and necessary just like Fred Sandback’s rope sculptures. At other times it contains a passion that makes me think of Johannes Vermeer. Or perhaps you unite the radical attitude of Stanley Brouwn or Douglas Huebler in poetic conceptualism. Let me quickly add that I do find this last term problematic. Of course your work can be called poetic, even beautiful, but its unique quality lies in the striking assimilation of an historical art tradition with an exceptional individual sensibility, and thereby binds together time, space, urbanism, perception, experience and melancholy. Very often you approach your work as a visual anatomy that overturns meanings and lets images pass into a discovery of the self. Because actually your work is about nothing more or less than the individual. Whether you are the artist yourself, a city dweller or a viewer of your work. Each piece reflects and articulates the vulnerable channels and unravels the visible and invisible contours in which the mental experiences of the human being are played out. I will continue to cherish the ‘nails’ from Fortaleza and try to embrace your work with the same meticulous precision with which you, in your work, embrace the world.

Delft, February 2011