b. 1975, Montevideo, Uruguay
Alejandro Cesarco was born in 1975 in Montevideo, Uruguay. After graduating with a BA in economics from the Universidad Católica del Uruguay Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga in 1998, he completed an MA in studio art through a program run jointly by New York University and the International Center of Photography in 2000. In addition to his studio practice, Cesarco has curated several exhibitions and runs Art Resources Transfer (A.R.T.), a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 to publish books documenting conversations between artists.
Cesarco’s work is influenced by literature and literary theory, and by the fragile relationships that exist between imagery, language, and meaning. In projects such as Index (2008– ), a series of printed alphabetic lists of references assigned to nonexistent books, words are a central medium. For Flowers (2003), Cesarco sent bouquets to a group of iconic woman artists including Vija Celmins and Yoko Ono; each was accompanied by a card with the text, “This sculpture by Alejandro Cesarco was sponsored by Socrates Sculpture Park” (the project having been realized as part of the EAF02: 2002 Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition at the Queens, New York-based not-for-profit arts organization). The text’s quasi-official tone, the work’s dependence on circulation, and the fleeting nature of the object involved evoke prototypical Conceptual art. Yet Flowers’s statement is more poetic—and arguably political—than didactic.
Cesarco’s work avoids dogma precisely because it explores the tension between language and signification. At the Uruguayan Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, he presented a video titled Methodology (2011), in which a couple argues entirely in commentaries derived from The Goodbyes (Los adioses, 1954), a short novel about secrecy by Uruguayan author Juan Carlos Onetti. The simultaneous displacement and equivalence between the text and its performance emphasize the impossibility of transparent communication.
Another aspect of Cesarco’s engagement with narrative and memory is revealed in his use of archival material. For his exhibition One Without the Other: Travel Photography and Films of Rufino Tamayo at the Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City in 2011, Cesarco and curator Juan Carlos Pereda, the leading authority on Tamayo’s work, showed photographs and films of trips made by the Mexican artist and museum founder. Accompanied by written descriptions of Tamayo’s paintings, the display confronted the viewer with the contrast between image and text, calling into question the veracity of both and highlighting the constructed nature of reminiscence.
Cesarco has had solo exhibitions at Art in General, New York (2006); Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires (2009); Tate Modern, London (2010); Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City (2011); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2012); and Frac ñle-de-France/Le Plateau, Paris, and Kunsthalle Zürich (both 2013). He has also participated in the group exhibitions Desire, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, and Nine Screens, Museum of Modern Art, New York (both 2010); Short Stories, Sculpture Center, New York (2011); Found in Translation, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2012); Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2013); and Time Pieces, Nordstern Videokunstzentrum, Gelsenkirchen, Germany (2014). He has participated in the Bienala Tinerilor Artişti, Bucharest (2006), San Juan Triennal, Puerto Rico (2009), Venice Biennale (2011), and São Paulo Biennial (2012), and received the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Award (2006) and Bloise Art Prize (2011). Cesarco lives and works in New York.