Becoming one with the Symptom

Celeste Martínez

[versión en español]

The image is the most persistent part of the object. Objects end the making of themselves with the shapes that remain in memory; as memory retains them; and as their connotations educate habit and custom, forcing individuals to desire their presence forever. In this way, the object struggles against its absence and its failure.

It is there, in that dispute, that industrial design so often defeats contemporary art. Design unifies its use and symbolic connotations. Its victory stems from its functionality and the permanence of the system of fashion, the successive vintage waves and the reiteration of their gestures.

Eager to mean several things all together -or the same thing at various levels of meaning- art leaves its rear part exposed: it underestimates the importance of the place from which it asserts, the place we have often turned into things.

In addition, contemporary art has been evading the object to focus on processes and links. It is then defeated again. This time, because memory consistently betrays whatever fails to cling to an object.

Memory betrays History by reading it from a contingent culture, claiming it to be its inevitable consequence. Affirming its certainty in the unification of otherness and the unification of its past; in its explanatory reading.

Celeste Martínez works to establish a relationship between the many meanings of art and the persistent connotation of the object as if trying to pack a perfume; printing the image on the use and altering them both, image and use.

Maladie is the way of carrying it out, through the use of objects; a non violent estrangement procedure.

Images are drawn from the context of codes that allows them to be read and written -from their history- remaining exorcized from their meanings. And they remain as available images to affect habits and customs.

Gerardo Mosquera once wondered about the relationship between Afro-Cubanism and the African religions that formed it; about the successive re-significations of these codes in transformation; of notions and mythologies forgotten in the course of time. In process of integration.

We, even farther away from those relationships, only see their formal remains in images and code them far away from the remains proper. We are strangers, as they are, to their genealogy. But inhabit their contingency. Our capacity and our ignorance are there combined with theirs.

This is to say that we cannot know more than what we are capable of recognizing of us in the other. But a difference persists in the other. It is there, available, ready to be found, if curiosity and intrigue move us to do so.

Maladie is a syndrome. A syndrome that uses the efficiencies of design and contemporary art.

Synchronizing them. The rest is released, floats.

Back to efficiencies.

Everyday objects are affected and assessed on the basis of different notions of beauty and functionality. This is Design. Objects are available to be signified, go beyond the memory that makes them permanent. Art occurs on these possible links. This is its field of action.

Images indeed appeal to certain codes of the viewer. Viewers know and use only the range that makes them efficient. Reading is an active exercise of ignorance, of obstruction and concealment.

Codes -from Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Gilles Deleuze)- remained settled as irrelevant to circulation and visibility for the benefit of the economy circulation system (financial and symbolic). The Fashion System (Roland Barthes) combined with The Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord) make the transfer of importance explicit: from the content to the continuity and repetition of the broadcast as the only possible way of transcendence.

Then what is it that an image carries? What is it that an object carries? They convey an excuse. An excuse to turn reading, desire, consumption into action. An excuse for the
individual to romanticize his need for significance; for an addition and adjective to the status quo; or to test it in disagreement.

Comfort and dissent. The object acts in an ideological way, says Slavoj Žižek . The individual is a fractured object, as Jacques Lacan puts it. Every individual is, at first glance, an object that must be proven as an individual. The entire problem is subject to test whenever we, as individuals, access the object.

The entire problem is being tested when individuals build an ethics, morals, legislation to constitute and support us vis-Á -vis necessity and desire. To move in a system -fortunately- indifferent.

Maladie objects silently carry a diagnosis of the system of art. No need to be more explicit. All that remains is what you can do with them. Whatever you want to do with them.


Jorge Sepúlveda T.
Curador Independiente
Ilze Petroni
Investigadora de Arte


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translated by Ilze Petroni and María Rosa Andreotti

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