Excerpt from the catalogue of Contemporáneo 1. Esteban Álvarez and Tamara Stuby at Malba. 2002.
By Andrés Duprat (curator).
(…)”Operating in a space which Malba proposed to contemporary art implies in principle certain internal coherence in the whole of the works presented due to the complexity and the visual character of the architectural space. In this sense the choice of two artists as Esteban Alvarez and Tamara Stuby is relevant as there is in its production constants in the way of materializing his works both the conceptual field a dialogue and a discussion.
Both artists come from similarly. From the manipulation of everyday items such as plastic bottles, old clothes, commercial brochures, office, etc, elements operating changes, transform, add, associated, articulate, break, cut, combine and upset to the point of creating new objects, which, on the other hand, also come from the everyday world as a cloud, oxygen masks or a pile of bricks. This way artists produce an Alchemy deliberately povera, which not only new applications, but also new meanings. The presence of the process is not to escape the lack of content, nor seeks to become it. The process to share center stage with the final result, betrays an assessment of artistic activity in itself. These transformations, in which the artists leave that we read your starting point, demonstrating the artifice, do not possess innocence any but more good a heavy burden of irony and a crude reference to the reality of Argentina. (…)
(…) In a year of air, Esteban Alvarez, a gigantic cloud of bottled mineral water has been installed within the triple–height of the museum hall, she hang four small masks that allow this vital air. A year of air is a wonderful metaphor about the need for protection; It provides a possibility of delusional communication between a hostile environment and the need for breathing that makes us so vulnerable.
“From an initial impression of air and purity, the cloud evokes the idea of worthless items recycled to become a last rescue system. It is a reflection in the face of panic, not desperate but stubborn, an attitude that is assimilated by transformation into routine from the contemplation of this last circumstance, of the worst situation. “The construction is simple, practical calculations, and the scale can only be described as humble or megalomaniac after deciding how much is worth a year of air, and for whom.” *
In the whole of works, Alvarez and Stuby attempt to subvert an established order, to the concept that the new objects suggest both the alteration of the essence of the objects used. Promoting in this way the remains, not as offal but the last thing us, absolutely essential, the irreducible. Thus, the constructive potential of the masonry of fabric, multiple approach to the dream house designs, the hypothesis of survival of a year of air, the cryptic or random arrangement of cubes and the infinite possibilities shown in the video, suggest, in the universe of these artists, a possibility of survival or salvation. A departure. (…)
(…) Turning useless into useful put in crisis the concept of authority, rule, of hierarchy, of provisions, seems to be one of the keys to his work. “
By Andrés Duprat, independent curator and Director of the National Museum of fine arts in Buenos Aires.
Andrea Giunta (About Contemporary 1):
“After several months of uncertainty, the Malba managed to dazzle the audience with the start (…) a new project of exhibitions. The bet is directed to contemporary art and the production of new works. To that class of works that are obsessively about the imagination of artists, that we almost always access only by their stories and that, in the current conditions of the country, seem inevitably doomed to be held in the territory of the impossible. Defying this affront, Tamara Stuby and Esteban Alvarez, along with Andrés Duprat – curator of the sample, the permanent team of the Museum and hired staff, became the Museum in a workshop.
Since the door of the Museum, we see huge porous, translucent and light mass that rises up against the ceiling, expands surrounding space of the lift box, climbs up the Rails on the third floor and is precipitated by organic shapes, suspended, on internal and empty space of the Museum. “A year of air”, Esteban Alvarez, is a giant cloud that astonishes with the range of nuances that light passes through it at different times of the day. A cloud of disposable, since it is made with water bottles. It is a monument to the precarious. During Assembly, the Museum was a theatre in which the waste materials were transformed into a fantastic and eloquent way. It is impossible not to think of the process of transformation that metaphorically the play evokes, materializing this desire to rescue society craves.
The assumption that the work contains the air that a person needs to live for a year contains mistakes and alternatives is the air that need an inhabitant of Buenos Aires or also reaches for one of Mexico or New York? Is it a mathematical calculation or a metaphor for extinction? The mere fact of becoming entangled in such reasoning shows the playful sense that implies work. Is when all that excess gains a bit of irony, underlined by the masks that, supposedly, can breathe oxygen. (…)
(…) Alvarez and Stuby aren’t a team that performs a work, but work together and their works operate in a complementary manner. There is a dialogue that occurs in the strange tension between irony and utopia. Utopian because they anticipate unwanted spaces on the paper or reveal the poetic sense of the waste. Ironic because they introduce the humor and critical distance. In the current context display calls the implicit desire to project, from the present fragmented, a possible alternative.”
Andrea Giunta (on contemporary 1), fragment of the post-crisis, Argentine art book after 2001. Siglo XXI, 2009, Buenos Aires.