2020 MFA Thesis Exhibition, School of Art + Design at San Diego State University
by Juan M. Cabrera
The title of this body of work, Crawlspace, refers to a liminal space where these architectures reside, between banality and the sublime, nostalgic and modern, specificity and non-specificity, and to describe a relationship of simultaneous repulsion and attraction. The title of each piece in this series, Exploration, is in reference to the book “House of Leaves” by Mark. Z Danielewski, a work of uncanny fiction which similarly explores architecture, alluding to both the act of physically traversing an unknown space, and to the process involved in creating these pieces. The book describes a series of strange occurrences involving the sudden appearance of doors, hallways, and other impossible architectural distortions within an otherwise normal two-story home, and a photographer and his family’s attempts to document these events. The narrator remarks on the futility of the character’s endeavors to make objective, scientific sense of these phenomena, saying “It would seem the language of objectivity can never adequately address the reality of that place on Ash Tree Lane” (Danielewski 379). My paintings reflect a similar mistrust in the language of objectivity to describe an experience, but a reliance on the shaky methods of representation, nonetheless.
The primacy of direct experience with images is central to this work. Rather than reflecting a rational or unbiased analytical perspective, my interest is founded upon a personal and intimate relationship with my subject matter. I explore this intimate territory in search of overlooked recesses of experience, hoping to access alternate perspectives and unlock dormant sensations. Towards this effort, I use overlapping and repetitive spatial and personal imagery throughout this body of work, bringing disparate images together in conversations that reveal hidden tensions.