José Luis Cortés-Santander at Galería The Goma, Madrid

Jose Luis Cortes Santander installation view Galleria The Goma 1 José Luis Cortés Santander at Galería The Goma, Madrid
José Luis Cortés-Santander - Installation view and Detail at Galería The Goma, Madrid

For this commissioned project, José Luis Cortés Santander (Mexico, 1980) has specially developed a series of artworks that constantly refer to a time and space beyond themselves. Geheimnisse sind die Knoten, die die Welt zusammenhalten, secrets are the knots that bind the world, emphasizes the power of artistic creation as a medium for the circulation of ideas which far from being considered affirmations act as propagated rumors. At the same time, the artworks presented in this show gaze in a subtly ironic manner the power attributed to the artist of unveiling mystic truths.

Jose Luis Cortes Santander Outside View at Galeria The Goma Madrid  José Luis Cortés Santander at Galería The Goma, Madrid
José Luis Cortés-Santander – Outside view  of Galería The Goma, Madrid

While stressing the idea that any work of art generates discursive constructs around itself, the group featured here evidences the linkages they establish with distant events and phenomena. The exhibition takes off from the concept of interdependence, postulated by a key figure and major inspiration for the artist’s current production, the German thinker and scientist Athanasius Kircher. The concept has often been summarized in the phrase “the world is bound with secret knots”, and it has been manipulated by the artist back to Kircher’s native language. The veiled connections among the works and the latent secrets that are found in them may be conceived as rumors implanted or transferred into the exhibition space. Besides from acting as elements that trigger imaginative processes, they also perform as a medium that activates the flow of relations between the works and the world outside the white cube -a spatial form that has become a standard and convention, characterized by its homogenization, neutrality, and autonomy.

Jose Luis Cortes Santander installation view at Galeria The Goma Madrid José Luis Cortés Santander at Galería The Goma, Madrid
José Luis Cortés-Santander – Installation view at Galería The Goma, Madrid

A collection of more than 250 matchbooks, Light Years, draws us back in a first stance to the places, cities, and moments in which they were acquired, the places they publicize, and the anecdotes deposited in them. Nonetheless, they are intervened by an annotation written on their inside flap: a year and a city that correspond to the same number of fires listed, selected from historical records. Light Years opens a game in which a random group of collected objects, discrete memories that survive, give count of random sprouts of destruction.

The plastic exercise carried on by Cortés Santander combines an acute observation of the phenomena that surround him and the desire to form a chain of gestures inscribed in a system that moves infinitely, where everything contained in it has an impulse of its own that transports it in time. This is made visible in works like New World Order, a present-day world map in whose reverse a calendar from 4022 is printed. It is identical to the one from 2011 and equally distant in time.

Jose Luis Cortes Santander Installation view at Galeria The Goma Madrid 1 José Luis Cortés Santander at Galería The Goma, Madrid

José Luis Cortés-Santander – Installation view at Galería The Goma, Madrid

Geheimnisse sind die Knoten, die die Welt zusammenhalten is also a nostalgic take on the oblivion of past and future spaces, projected too on mechanisms that have become obsolete. If the efficiency from Light Years‘s matchbooks as a publicity medium is now void, a similar shift occurs with apparatuses and machines whose main function is to systematize information. The jointing of a ouija board and a pantograph turns into a peculiar instrument that, if activated, would draw abstract traces on the sheet of paper where it lays. As the homemade hybrid of a tool that decodes signals sent by a spirit and a drawing instrument that projects existing images, They must find it difficult is a witty approach to the mystic faculty that has been attributed to the artistic practice. The impossibility suggested by the resulting mechanism is a constant element in the artist’s current inquiries. The show features as well a lithograph from the Irregular Pearl series, project through which Cortés Santander has explored the destabilization of a perfect and harmonic shape, the pearl, by mutating it into a sphere with a conic protuberance. The lithograph portraits a globe in which the planet may not spin on its own axis as it has been transformed into an irregular pearl.

Jose Luis Cortes Santander Installation view at Galeria The Goma Madrid 2 José Luis Cortés Santander at Galería The Goma, Madrid
José Luis Cortés-Santander – Installation view at Galería The Goma, Madrid

The two windows that connect the gallery to the street will be covered from the outside with newspaper clippings, local classified announcements from the opening day of the show. This intervention is the work You’re gonna need someone on your side, whose inefficiency to function as a consulting space within an already designed urban routine gives hint of the declared impossibility that inhabits the artist’s production, one that becomes a poetic filter through which the world is looked from. Time will go by and the newspaper clippings will start to disappear, either taken by the people who walk by or torn for being outside. Geheimnisse sind die Knoten, die die Welt zusammenhalten will then show itself to the passerby, in the same way a store covers its windows, to affirm that it is a space in process and constant transformation.

Fabiola Iza

Fabiola Iza is an art historian and curator. She currently works at the Visual Arts department of Casa del Lago, a cultural center from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) specialized in emerging proposals and site-specific projects. She is a regular collaborator of editorial projects on contemporary art and writes for many publications based in Mexico City.

 

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