Magazine article Artforum International

Alejandro Vidal: GALLERIA ARTRA

Magazine article Artforum International

Alejandro Vidal: GALLERIA ARTRA

Article excerpt

In 2000, the Colectivo Sociedad Civil, a group of Peruvian artists and activists, organized a public action of protest and civil resistance in Plaza Mayor in Lima, Peru. Alluding to the reigning regime's corruption, their symbolic action Lava la Bandera consisted of the washing of the national flag. In A Song Before Sunset, 2009, Alejandro Vidal presents a restaging of this rite in ten photographs. Some people, faces unseen, intently soak flags of different nations. Yet the images are not a commentary on current or historic events, and indeed, the event that precipitated the work fades behind the image. Vidal has always worked with the representation of urban rituals, including the violent practices of youth subcultures and metropolitan "tribes," but his art maintains a distance from any documentary form. Instead, he is interested in understanding codes, in the grammar of signs and stereotyped gestures, produced or reinforced by their representation in the media. As evinced in this recent exhibition, "Hell Is a Place Where Memory Is Dead," the artist isolates and abstracts these elements from their contexts, then restages them in detailed, artificial form.

In Vidal's photographs, then, he treats reality as an interloper that lurks in the background. This strategy was already clear in the artist's earlier works, also on view: the video Tactical Disorder, 2006, and the photographs The Line Between the Devil's Teeth, 2007, and Sabbatique, 2007. In the photographs of A Song Before Sunset, the flags are difficult to recognize, any references to a specific national context faded. …

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