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Review: nascimento/lovera: national archive

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ArtMedia Gallery - Miami

Curated by Jose Antonio Navarrete 
By Heike Dempster 

Fact or fiction? History has been rewritten many times as the voice and and writers have changed over time. Media, governments and other observers have agendas, and many a colonial myth was once considered fact. The analogies between narrative construction in art and historical discourse are based on the fictitious aspect and openness to interpretation.

Nascimento/Lovera are interested in the idea of history as fiction as well as in «History­­», with a capital «H,» which, according to the artists, "is a greater narrative construction that operates on terms that are contradictory to alternative micro-histories."

The exhibition "National Archive, 1997-" comprises a part of a socially conscious, larger ongoing work project by constructivist Venezuelan artists Juan Nascimento and Daniela Lovera. The part exhibited at ArtMedia Gallery consists of information published in various newspapers in Venezuela, such as press photos, documents, info graphics and statistics. The information is compiled into a concise factographic narrative that explores geometry, shape and graphics in art on one hand and examines the sociopo-litical situation of Venezuela, the role of the media and the many sides of history on the other.

The point of departure is an abstract red-and-white wall, a graphic allusion to the mural Policromias by Mateo Manaure. The original mural is recognizably associated with the repossession strategies of properties and businesses by the Venezuelan government. It adorns the wall of the headquarters of Compañia Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, just one of the many repossessed companies in Caracas.

Moving across the walls like a trail is Venezuela's more recent history and the historical narratives as presented by the artists, which are not positioned chronologically, but rather, presented by the curator in a visual and conceptual cycle. The cycle represents a continuity and alludes to the cycle of problems reinforcing each other, ranging from repossession, infringements upon freedom of speech, espionage, drugs and poverty to death.

The delicate and refined ways in which the artists present Venezuela's human condition showcases both a clear point of view of the local politics and a distinct aesthetic sophistication. Constructivism is at the core of Nascimento/Lovera,s installations. The artists use archival news material and statistics to create a new, but contaminated, narrative. They deconstruct the material via removal of text and create a focus on image as well as space. The shapes, forms and lines visible on the pages, like skeletal outlines of the original newspapers, are stripped down to the bare elements and show only a central image or graph.

Each page retains a purity of form and precise geometry that appears architectural in nature. The black lines, dates, numbers and images on the yellowed pages mixed with the red on the Manaure-inspired walls show precision, focus and clarity. There are no gray areas and no undefined spaces. Each space and line has a purpose, and empty spaces reinforce the importance of images and leave a relevant void.

The words of written histories are removed from "National Archive, 1997-," leaving space for the artists' narrative, which they build block by block, page by page, conceptually and aesthetically.
(January 24 — March 31, 2013)