The “ Un-action” of Del Pilar Sallum
At first sight, the repetitive gestures of winding and unwinding seem simple. They bring to mind children’s games that involve tying up and releasing fingers and hands to deal with the prison/freedom opposition. They also allude to knitting, using skeins of yarn and thread, an activity that lends an aura of feminine domesticity.
They may hark back to an association with the image of tied fingers to represent the memory of some future act that cannot be forgotten. Or the may recall dressing applied to a wounded body in act of care or redemption.However, engulfed by the exhaustive and circular repetition of the acts of winding and unwinding, that expand and retract, thicken or dissolve in the lack of resolution, the gesture become metaphors of perversion. In the simultaneousness of two actions parallel in time opposite in direction and meaning, they produce a nihilist synthesis. The gestures annul one another, perverting the prospect of a cumulative construction. They evoke voids.
The hands that twist and untwist themselves in the metallic threads are metonyms of a body that operates in opposition to capitalist production. They signal transgression of the ideology of the assembly line. They do and undo simultaneously and in identical proportions.As philosopher Jean Baudrillard puts it, in post-modern culture, the act of construction generates the respective destruction of its meaning. He argues that the dissolution of notion of time and public space is inherent to contemporaneity. The object then no longer mirror the subject; causality is lost.The visually of “scene” is replaced by “ob-scene” data (1). What one sees is not the hand that winds or unwinds the metallic threads, but the engines that drive this destructive operation.
The work gives place not only to the text, but to the sub-text, the invisible text that lies “between-the-lines” and outlines itself in the semi-hypnotic effect produced by the eye fixed on the action-contraction binomial. The video-performance is a prolongation of the body-more specifically, of the hands – consistently chosen by the artist as a vehicle for the construction of an intimist and self-conscious work, fragilized and fragilizing.
In “Ataduras”, a previous series of works, Sallum molded metallic threads thickly and obsessively around fingers and hands. They were thus transformed into molds, frames, supports. The threads, molded, wound up and hollow, became sculptures of the void, the solitude, remembrance of the physicality that produced them. Emptied of the metallic conglomerate, the artist body disintegrates, becomes a thing of the past. The sculptures produces then become receptacles of memories, cocoons void of life. In video, the experience of the material construction of the bandage-sculptures achieved by the physical absence is radicalized. Here, the process that takes place in time leads nowhere. The temporary nature of the winding/unwinding is imprisoned, like a tune on a scratched vinyl record.
Repetition of the zig-zagging action establishes a relationship in which all vestiges of causality are eradicated. A schizophrenic relationship emerges from the scene’s translucidity: by means of repetition, we become intimate with, an accomplices to this autistic winding/unwinding. By means of our gazes-disenchanted with the linear narratives proposed by production systems- We establish a promiscuous identification with that compulsive body so totally devoid of any possibility to escape from it meaningless and interminable course.
(1) Jean Baudrillard in “ The Ecstasy of Communication” pg 126 to 134. The Anti-Aesthetic Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. Hal Foster. (Seattle: Bay Press, 1983).