Omar Pimienta, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
9:19 p.m., Feb 22, 2011
Walking into to the rotunda of La Jolla's historic Athenaeum Music and Arts Library has seldom felt so strange as last Friday, when Omar Pimienta's Defragmentation: Or Of How To Get Rid Of My Memory Voids opened to the public.
Since a curved wall is not exactly the ideal place to hang a picture, the rotunda's shape challenges the norms of conventional art displays. More so than the standard white-cube, the round form requires that, to be successful, an exhibition must take a particularly thoughtful curatorial approach. In an ideal situation, the content or meaning of the work on display would somehow be reflected in the space within which it is inscribed. In this case, Omar Pimienta achieves just that.
Pimienta's exhibition consists of hundreds of photographs attached directly to the wall, pictures that act as keepsakes of the artist's memory. They are those every day wall pictures, pictures of both urban and desert landscapes, pictures of friends and loved ones. Certain faces pop up with curious regularity; you wonder about the stories. Long since based between San Diego and Tijuana, Pimienta has consistently tapped into the relationship between geography and memory as a theme in his work, which ranges in medium from photography, video, and installation to poetry and collective practice.
In crossing the threshold into the Athenaeum's rotunda, the viewer enters a metaphorical space representing the artist's own interiority. The space where we store our memories, wherever it is inside of us, is undoubtedly one of our most intimate spaces. In this show, Pimienta not only opens this space up to the public, but he invites participation, allowing viewers to peel pictures off the wall. Thus, one by one the exhibition will drift away in the hands of those who come to see it. This creates a layered effect: viewers can leave with both their own memories of seeing the show, as well as an objectified memento representing the memory of the artist. When it is all said and done, the exhibition will consist of nothing but the blankness of the walls, a poetic and well conceived gesture to the movement of our memories over time towards obscurity.
At the end, a time-lapse video of the exhibition's life-span will be produced, and the show's withering away will presumably be compressed into a few minutes. It is interesting to wonder what effect this video will produce. There is something about the slowness with which the gaps appear and grow in the image display that is crucial to the exhibition, so much so that seeing it sped up would at best give only a vague intimation of its effect. I suppose this is all the more reason to go see the show before it is gone. Besides, how often do you get the chance to add to your own bank of memories by withdrawing from that of another?
-- Drew Snyder
Defragmentation: Or Of How To Get Rid Of My Memory Voids is on view at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library through March 26, 2011. Also on display is the work of Alberto Blanco, one of Mexico's "most important poets and well known visual artists." Visit www.ljathenaeum.org for more information. To learn more about Omar Pimienta, visit www.omarpimienta.com
Image: View of Defragmentation: Or Of How To Get Rid Of My Memory Voids at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library by Omar Pimienta