Alba Mágica MMX
Retrospective show
Galería Wood Street, Pittsburgh, USA, 2010

For the first time ever, Wood Street Galleries hosted Alba Magica MMX, a retrospective of Argentinean installation artist Martin Bonadeo that spans over a decade of his work. Nine of Bonadeo’s installations filled Wood Street Galleries entire exhibition space. Gallery visitors had the opportunity to interact with Bonadeo’s projections, luminal sculptures and electronic objects that explore the ways in which we approach and measure space and time. The following seven installations were on view: real time vanitas, revisits, moebius display, NEWS (it is not), variable horizons, two suns, fused americas, locked up landascapes.


Black magic and white magic

By Jorge Bosia

If we project light beams of different colors, for example, the primary colors on a white screen, the light in the intersection of the beams on the screen will be white.

If we mix instead primary colors pigments, the resulting mixture will produce a dark color.
In its self-presentation, light is delivered to the synergy of color with total detachment.
Given its weight, however, by releasing yellow, it retains blue and red. If it releases red, it retains yellow and blue. And releasing blue, it retains red and yellow.
In all cases it is the light itself operating. We are spectators of its magic.
Most things do not emit light, otherwise we would see them in the dark. Most things retain light instead, they treasure, absorb, captivate it; and thus, left to their fate, the darkness swallows them.
When something emits light, it is visible not only for itself, but it also allows other entities to become manifest.
Yet the beauty of the world is created by the counterpoint between the things that absorb and the ones that emit light.
White magic enables black magic to deploy countless colors.
Black magic is a trick: it is displaying one color to retain others. White magic is the game that is consumed in its light, which allows black magic.
If all things emit light, we would still see countless colors. But certain junctions would show the total diaphanous whitenes.
The ancient Greek philosophers, in their arrogance, thought that light was emitted by the eye. Modern scientists, in their arrogance, think they have corrected that blunder.
But what if the ancient Greeks spoke, without knowing, about the fate of man and not about his dark, multicolored, present? The obscure things hold light to hide behind color. Things are afraid. Color is the disguise of things, an attractive and seductive strategy. Light admits colors, that is the repose of the soul. But the soul wants to lose itself in the combination of colors of the things, perhaps a continuous mask change to retain all colors.
Light makes magic from its uncertain love and gets things to negotiate wave frequencies. It forces us lovingly to produce a shivering world established transiting the strait between the ultraviolet sea and the infrared ocean.
The light, however, loves things and forgives their funny meanness. Things are reluctantly fulfilling their destiny of transience. The light leaks, in consequence, on the clearness of gases and vacuum. Things, stubbornly remain, ambushing it, hunting it and trading with its spectrum for a treasure that is tenderer the more festive is the play of light.


Installation artist Martin Bonadeo explores approaches to time, space

By Kurt Shaw, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Currently, nine pieces by Argentinian installation artist Martin Bonadeo fill both floors of the Wood Street Galleries, Downtown, in an exhibit that spans more than a decade of his work. Bonadeo is a professor of Latin American and Argentine Contemporary Art in the Universidad Catolica Argentina's Latin American Studies program. Since 2001, he has exhibited more than 30 site-specific installations in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Seville, Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.
With this exhibit, visitors have the opportunity to interact with Bonadeo's projections, luminal sculptures and electronic objects, as they explore the ways in which we approach and measure space and time -- sometimes literally, as in "Real Time Vanitas" (2002) in which visitors pass beneath a light bulb and a camera that takes a middle ground shot of them.
This image is then projected in real time on a large, wall-mounted sand-glass timer perfumed with naphthalene. As time passes, the projected image vanishes as the sand sifts through the hourglass. It's a literal interpretation of experiencing one's own inevitable decline over time. Time is again the subject in "Moebius Display" (2007), a new output interface development. This interface is a simple LED screen that has a spatial and conceptual modification. Instead of being flat, it is moebius stripe-shaped, a three-dimensional representation of the infinite, suspended from a ceiling. On the display, words circle one at a time, followed by their polar opposite. As in "Life" followed by "Death"; "Truth" followed by "Lie."
Another feature of the display is a strip of images that represent a sunrise, a continual theme in Bonadeo's work, which is explored in several of the other installations.
Bonadeo visits this horizon theme again with "Variable Horizons" (2008). Here several dozen handcrafted thermometers are aligned vertically on a wall to draw an irregular, green-colored alcohol horizon.
This line is not completely straight since not all thermometers are measuring exactly the same temperature. Depending on the ambient temperature, the number of visitors in the room and lighting (which produces heat) this line will vary its level and shape, as small "waves." Viewers can even touch the thermometer's bulbs, leaving traces of their presence, which will disappear subtly over time.
Finally, in "Fused Americas" (2003), Bonadeo addresses the multicultural aspects of Latin America. This work is based on a white flag artificially flaming in a mast, which functions as a screen for an interactive system that projects images of various flags of Central and South American countries. This luminous superimposition of the different flags in a continual, ever-changing sequence causes the piece to appear as if a flag is fluttering in the wind.
In this way it's symbolic. Latin American nations are dominated by economic groups fighting for resources instead of adhering to traditions. Thus, Bonadeo writes in his statement about the piece, "We are symbolically poor countries without education to understand our position. Democracies defined by European parameters do not manage to give fruits for the inhabitants of these countries. With institutions in crisis and hunger, the limits and identities only serve to crowd people in a current account of debts with the I.M.F. The flags, these independence symbols gained with proud blood in diverse battles, today are loosing their reason to be in a symbolic war played in a battlefield distant from the physicist, in a world with a new way to delineate borders."
In an exhibit filled with subtle, contemplative works, this piece may well be the most powerful in the show. Drawing attention to sociopolitical conditions long in existence, while still creating an environment that is both sublime and slightly unnerving.


Wood Street hosts Martin Bonadeo's microcosmic explorations of time and space.

By Savannah Schroll Guz, Pittsburgh City Paper

The elastic concepts of space and time provide the unifying themes for Argentine artist Martin Bonadeo's 10-year retrospective Alba Magica, at Wood Street Galleries. In many cases, Bonadeo's works can best be described as philosophical models that reflect on two culturally variable concepts -- time and space -- that both define our daily experience and often induce stress.
The exploration of these concepts and their symbolic expressions may not be a surprising choice for an artist whose doctorate is in social communication, and whose postdoctoral research considered intersections between art, science and technology. In his multimedia, multisensory works, Bonadeo explores all three subjects and places humans at the center. And since the field of social communication involves the study of how information is perceived, it seems natural that visitors must complete the theoretical circuits in Bonadeo's works.
The introductory work on the gallery's third floor, "Re-visits," is loosely connected to the concept of time by its inclusion of plan drawings for Bonadeo's earlier installations, and through its use of symbols like the Moebius strip, representing infinity. Originally part of a larger collaboration with artists Paula Senderowicz and Daniel Trama, it then featured sawhorse-supported table-tops covered with blueprints and scale models. Here, however, "Re-visits" has been boiled down to a few off-white wall decals of Bonadeo's sketches. The decals' pearlescent finish allows the symbols to appear and disappear, almost like forgotten history, as the viewer moves through the dimly illuminated space.
Nearby, "Real Time Vanitas" (2002) is a contemporary reference to an ancient concept: a memento mori, or reminder of our mortality. A photograph, taken while the viewer passes beneath a ceiling-mounted camera, is projected onto the sand in a sort of "flat-screen" hourglass. On my visit, the sand had largely run out, leaving nothing for my image to be projected on. Still, this, too, makes an unsettling statement: Here is a visualization of time lost, and of our inability to make even a fleeting mark. A very Twilight Zone notion.
A witty take on space and the significance of human intervention appears in "Variable Horizons" (2008), composed of a series of artisan-made thermometers filled with green- (rather than the traditional red-) tinted alcohol. The thermometers are mounted on the wall vertically and vary in size. Like a Renaissance perspective study, the size of the thermometers decreases as the array approaches a vanishing point, and reciprocally increases with each thermometer placed further from this vanishing point, creating a large V shape both above and below. The thermometers' temperature readings thereby create a median horizon, whose green suggests a landscape. Anomalous variations in the horizon are created when visitors stand close to the work -- mirroring the mechanisms of social communication itself, which is inexorably changed by human input.
In nearby "Two Suns" (2004), the spectator sits squarely between two oceanscape projections, where the sky-to-sea ratio is 50-50. At the sea, where the notion of infinity seems most conceivable, Bonadeo adds an interesting conceptual twist. One projection is a sunrise, the other a sunset. They look nearly identical, suggesting perpetuity, but bind the visitor in space on two sides by cardinal points, east and west.
Finally, Bonadeo expands this concept in "Locked-Up Landscapes," where a series of roads, beaches and meadows, and their related sounds, are projected into a narrow corridor. The work might make viewers ponder political, commercial or perceptual restrictions on land and space that might otherwise be virtually limitless.
The gallery's second floor, exhibiting Bonadeo works including "Moebius Display" (2007), "NEWS (it is not)" (2004) and "Fused Americas" (2003) was closed during my visit.
Still, the appropriately named Alba Magica ("Magical Dawn") awakens our culturally informed perceptions of time, and our politically-imposed notions of space. Even seen only in part, the exhibit offers a rich array of ideas that hold a mirror up to contemporary expectations.


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