A conversation with Alejandro Cesarco

Artist Alejandro Cesarco (AC) in conversation with curator Theodor Ringborg (TR)

TR: You’ve said that time and memory are recurring themes in your work. What is it about these subjects that interest you?

AC: Yes, I tend to flirt with the possibilities of memory as both the object and instrument of our desires. My work often puts in relation different methodologies of documenting, describing and accounting for the passage of time and the forms used to recall it.

TR: In the exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall you show the work Present Memory, which is an intimate portrait of your father. Could you say something about the background to this piece and how the topics of time and memory interrelate in it?

AC: Present Memory is a portrait of my father, shortly after he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. I filmed him in his office, he was a doctor, using a hand-held 16mm camera and later projected what I had filmed onto the same wall and recorded that projection on video. The work documents both a constructed and anticipated memory. The literal and metaphorical projection staged in the work is a rehearsal of fears: an attempt at dealing with a future absence, the process of mourning and remembering, mortality and letting go.

TR: What did the making of this piece mean for how you dealt with your grief?

AC: It was, in a way, an attempt at managing or controlling the feeling of loss by anticipating someone’s absence. The process of mourning, however, of course exceeds any foretelling or rationalization: one can not ever fully prepare for it. Working on this video was also, at its most basic, an excuse to spend time with my dad. To acknowledge and face the moment together and help each other process what was happening.

TR: The piece is installed in a rather lit space, which gives it a quite particular presence and non-presence. Could you say something about the presentation of the work and the spectral appearance of the portrait?

AC: Yes, that’s exactly it: the work takes on a spectral appearance. As the camera in some way caresses or retraces his body, it reappears as a form of soft-memory. And memories, as with ghosts, haunt because there is an intention or demand in their reappearance.