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Laura Nillni: No sé cuántas estrellas

Lélia Mordoch Gallery - Miami

A circumference on a chalkboard, a right triangle, a rhomb, are forms which we can fully intuit; the same held true with Ireneo for the tempestuous mane of a stallion, a herd of cattle in a pass, the ever-changing flame or the innumerable ash, the many faces of a dead man during the course of a protracted wake. He could perceive I do not know how many stars in the sky.

(Jorge Luis Borges, “Funes the Memorious,” in Ficciones, 1944)

By Raisa Clavijo

“No sé cuántas estrellas” (I do not know how many stars), the recent exhibition of Laura Nillni, an Argentinean artist residing in Paris, constituted an homage to Jorge Luis Borges on the 30th anniversary of his death. It assembled drawings, intervened books, videos and the installation that gives its title to the exhibition. With this project, Nillni retrieves elements that she considers inherent in the work of Borges and that have been fundamental for the conceptualization of her own work, like the notions of transparency and simultaneity, labyrinth and infinity.

In this exhibition, of note is her series “Rutas sobre papel plegado” (Routes over folded paper), which is made up of an extensive collection of pencil, graphite and acrylic drawings on folded paper. In some of these the paper is transparent, so that upon folding the drawing support, one can continue seeing the different successive layers of folds. At times, the drawings on the last layers are barely perceptible due to the numerous overlaps. This creative process and the resulting forms are associated with the idea of memory, comprised of various layers of recollections that time can either erase or fix, depending on the intensity of the event that has unleashed said memories. At the same time, each segment of the paper delimited by the folds constitutes a kind of labyrinth, since each crease of the fold presents new configurations that are multiplied, while the comprised labyrinth reinforces the idea of the infinite. In several of these drawings that are entitled No sé cuántas estrellas, Laura has reproduced by hand and on a large-scale fragments of Funes el memorioso by Borges, a story in which the main character, Ireneo Funes, had the ability to remember everything. In Laura’s own words, “It is a founding text for my work, because in it one finds all of the themes that pass through it: transparency, disappearance/appearance, simultaneous vision, time, memory and oblivion.”

“Laura Nillni: No sé cuantas estrellas” (I don’t know how many stars), installation view at Lélia Mordoch Gallery, Miami. Courtesy of the artist and Lélia Mordoch Gallery.

“Laura Nillni: No sé cuantas estrellas” (I don’t know how many stars), installation view at Lélia Mordoch Gallery, Miami. Courtesy of the artist and Lélia Mordoch Gallery.

The artist has spread out the drawings in the gallery space as much on the walls, forming a kind of pathway (once again labyrinthine) on which drawings on folded paper are juxtaposed with those fragments of Funes el memorioso that have been intervened by the artist; she has highlighted the dots of each of the words and phrases to then join them with very fine lines, as though it were a sky full of constellations. Also included are monitors with videos, among which No sé cuántas estrellas stands out; it is located at the entrance to the exhibition. This piece once again takes up Funes el memorioso and constitutes a tribute to Borges that Laura created in collaboration with her husband, the artist and composer Ricardo Nillni. This video is the fourth dedicated to this author within the artistic production of Laura and Ricardo. Finally, in a side room, the video installation Constelación Pierre Menard was projected, retrieving fragments of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (a novel that Borges later tried to rewrite in Pierre Menard autor del Quijote). In the fragments of the texts reproduced in these two videos, she once again highlights the dots of each word and phrase, while a numerical animation joins them using very fine lines. In another sequence of the video, the words disappear and only the dots joined by the lines remain, forming structures that, just as occurs in the installation of drawings, resemble an endless number of imaginary constellations.

(September 8 - October 31, 2016)

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