Things That Barely Exist by Pancho Westendarp
Opening reception: February 7, 2014, 6-9pm
Days Go By, 2012
5 minutes 19 seconds
©2013 Pancho Westendarp/Robert Henry Contemporary
Pancho Westendarp's drawings, videos and sculpture seek to analyze relationships between time, space, memory and movement. This exhibition, his first with the gallery, will contain a video projection, drawings and sculpture.
For Westendarp, memory is not a file of recollections but a series of events from our past that relate to each other and that can help us to understand our present. In this sense our past is always connecting with our present and, in the same way, our future is completed by our past. The decisions we make based on previous experiences determine part of our future. In general we keep track of the highlights of our lives, birthdays, graduations, births, deaths, etc. because they have stronger effects on the quality of our lives. It is the mundane, over-looked seemingly unrelated events that happen in between these larger events that Westendarp uses to question social constructs of marking time and meaning in our lives. He says, “We recall time and set marks in our past to track down our history, but in between these points, there are several events that pass unperceived because they don’t seem to belong to a chain of actions and consequences that links directly with an important moment.”
In his five-minute video, Days Go By, 2012 he documents a random encounter with a deer as he was walking down a wooded Long Island path. Over the next 13 months he returned and filmed the same location over and over hoping to repeat this encounter. The seasons change, green turns to orange and brown and the gray stillness of winter sets in. But it isn’t until the very end of the video do we see the deer again.
Last days of 2013 is a series of 21 sculptural objects made from the detritus of his everyday life like things left in his pockets, objects found in hotel rooms he slept in, fortune cookie messages, subway tickets, receipts from dinners with friends, etc. They represent a journal of the places he has been; the trips taken; the people that were close to him during the time the objects were collected. These ephemeral, throwaway items have the power to reconstruct and summarize his memories, events and people of his everyday life.
In his short story, The Aleph, writer Jorge Luis Borges describes a point (the Aleph) in space that contains all other points in the universe. Looking through that point everything that exists in the universe can be seen from all angles simultaneously and without overlaps, distortions or confusion. The Point Where All Points Converge, 2013, a series of 20 7” x 5” drawings on printed book pages, in which Westendarp takes Borges' description of the Aleph and literally blots out the words with thousands of tiny black ink dots on book pages the story was printed on. In total, the 20 drawings of the piece are a visual representation of this impossible future Borges describes. The story hides below the drawing in the same way the whole perception of the universe is blocked by the limitations of our memory to process and remember everything that exists, turning our recollections into a blurry map of scattered images.
Westendarp’s work subverts societal constructions of time by reformulating these time representations in ways that don’t standardize human experience under the same circumstances. He says, “Developing our own way of measuring time means creating our own notion of history and developing new rituals where time can be practical and playful, where faith and mechanics can interact, where procedures can become purposeless and where movement is not understood by distance traveled but by the change of a state of mind.”