CCU and Y Gallery are pleased to present Invisible Dust, the first New York solo show, curated by Cecilia Jurado of Chilean Artist Alejandra Prieto, winner of the CCU Art Grant. Within her artistic practice, Prieto is dedicated to exploring ideas regarding the status of the object, its conditions of production, functionality and expository modes in the contemporary art world. Her recent coal-based works reflect on the invisible and visible mechanisms and modes of representation in contemporary spaces. She establishes and makes visible the relationships between the sophistication of design and the unskilled labor required for reproduction, and between subjective modes of market entry and purely aesthetic objects.
In the exhibition Prieto presents a constellation of four objects made out of coal that provide a series of tensions related to the look and invisible processes of production and exchange. These objects include a mirror, two large coal dust prints on silk and a simulation of a coal dust cloud projected onto a rustic screen made of the same material. The mirror, considered the vertex of this constellation of elements is, more than anything else, an object of gaze; its classical position as an allegory of art confirms this status. Prieto’s mirror reminds us of a sculptural materiality, not merely a reflecting surface, but also primarily a luxurious, decorative and aesthetic object. But precisely one of the features that make the mirror a single object is that its functionality supposes its dematerialization. That is, when we use a mirror, we forget its main charactestic as an object. We look at the object and its composition, or we look at the reflection it gives us. This is the paradoxical condition we are given as these sides converge somehow and then bypass each other. The functionality of coal as a reflective element makes these two positions appear in one single moment, a function that Prieto rescues not discovers since coal was effectively used this way by Pre-Columbian civilizations.
If the mirror is the apex, the coal dust is the master; a floating signifier, one can say. Around all the objects in the exhibition, the idea of repetition, reproduction, and insistence is generated. There is an insistence of the residual especially a residual status in our culture. However not in a practical sense since our economic systems still use coal as an energy resource crucial however invisible. Coal is an object one does not see, nor do we see those who extract it, nor the hard work that emerges from the bowels of our sophisticated and hyper-visible world that declares this product beautiful and democratic through a myriad of objects to consume. Cleaning the commodity hides the dust thus insisting that all the invisible inhabit the visible. This invisible dust is the residue, the outcome of a hand that produces and as Marx declares, is obliterated in the finished product. In Invisible Dust the obscenity of our system enters the picture. It is not about an aesthetic medium, but about capturing and making that dust cloud visible. This is emphasized by figuratively sweeping the dust out from under the carpet. Prieto makes our repressed objects of desire, the undetectable darkness, appear in the mirror, the silk and ghostly projections on the white walls of the gallery.
Alejandra Prieto was born in Chile in 1980. She attended PUC University for her BFA and Chile University for her MFA. She has shown internationally, recently he work was part of VII Biennale Mercosur, Projetaveis, Porto Alegre, Brasil; Triennale de Chile, “El Terremoto de Chile”, Contemporary Art Museum, Santiago, Chile; VI Biennale SIART, La Paz, Bolivia; among others. She won first prize for the prestigious CCU Grant and is currently a resident at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). She lives and works in Santiago, Chile and will participate in the upcoming XI Havana Biennial.
Prieto was the first prize winner of the CCU Art Grant, selected by a jury that included Cecilia Jurado (Y Gallery), Ivan Navarro (artist), Milan Ivelic (Director Museo de Bellas Artes de Chile), Daniel Swimburn (Director Artes y Letras Diario El Mercurio), Pamela Prado (Coordinadora Consejo Nacional de Cultura y las Artes) and Macarena Goldenberg (Jefe de Cultura CCU), in a national contest in Chile.
Through CCU Art Grant, CCU intends to acknowledge and strengthen the development and internationalization of Chilean contemporary artists, to create an environment for dialogue promotion, as well as to exchange experience and knowledge among artists and entities related to art at a worldwide level, to show their work and to create networks.