Magazine article Artforum International

Pablo Sigg: Ltd Los Angeles

Magazine article Artforum International

Pablo Sigg: Ltd Los Angeles

Article excerpt

In his 2010 essay "Tuymans, Loyola, Leibniz," Mexico City--based artist Pablo Sigg describes painter Luc Tuymans's canvases as involving a "suspension of the surface that is separated from the depth and weight of matter." The same could read as a description of Sigg's own Anemic Cinema, 2008, a pivotal work in the younger artist's solo debut at ltd los angeles. One of seven works on view, Anemic Cinema takes its title from Duchamp's 1926 film of the same name and uses as its base content footage from the 1973 movie The Exorcist. Digitally dissecting a nine-minute clip wherein two priests purge a girl of the demon that possesses her, Sigg vertically elongated the frames and then traced each onto an all-white ground to produce a ghostly facsimile of the original. The effect is of a film divested of recognizable context, and--with no setting, sound, or cinematographic detail--the actors are diminished into mere outlines; exorcised empty shells, their nearly invisible gesticulating bodies are suspended in a looping void.

Though much has been written about the spectral nature of film, Sigg's Anemic Cinema efficiently demonstrates the medium's fundamental character as a trace of the visible, a stand-in for the presence of a body, an immaterial doubling that shows reality to be possessed by the non-present. Underscoring his metaphoric intentions, Sigg included in this show The Swedenborg Room, 2011, which recounts, across a five-panel text piece, Emanuel Swedenborg's experience of a supernatural vision at an inn in London in 1745; the work invokes Beckett, Deleuze, Foucault, Loyola, and, of course, The Exorcist. The appearance of this CliffsNotes guide to thinking about the exhibition was somewhat off-putting, bordering on gratuitous didacticism even as it acknowledged that the presence of language can compromise an artwork. …

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