The Dialectic City [Document|Context]

“The urban phenomenon and urban space are not only a projection of social relationships but also a terrain on which various strategies clash”
Henri Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution

“To capture a city in an image really means following its movement”
Nicolas Bourriaud, The Radicant

The city is comprised of colliding elements; conflicting mechanisms that through movement create situations and actions. In constant flux and development, these dialectical relationships1 or strategies can be interpreted and reconsidered in spatial or temporal terms. Any given building in a city, measured through its façade and structural components, undergoes constant shifts in perspective defined by social, political or economic changes in the urban fabric. Insofar as social relations are concerned, we can sense a city’s identity, culture and problematics through its streets, collected debris, people, and things. The city is not a place of permanent encounters or exchanges, but a site of temporal conversations, actions and situations. It is always changing, constantly moving. To deny movement in the city would be to deny its very substance and subsistence; movement itself being nearly impossible to imagine without space and time.

Taking as a point of departure this idea of movement and spatial/temporal transformation, “The Dialectic City [Document | Context]” gathers a group of works from 11 artists who seize the city as site and catalyst for artistic manifestations. Directly referencing the conceptual artistic strategy of documentation2, the works on display are documents implying very specific contexts, suggesting either explicitly or implicitly an action or situation that occurred in the city. They are context specific as well as time specific (Bourriaud), remnants and documents of the city, real or fabricated, continuously connoting motion, sign, and activity.

1 When speaking of the dialectic, I am referring to Heraclitus’ idea of dialectical movement, reintroduced and reworked years later by Hegel. Although Heraclitus never wrote directly about the dialectic, he is known for stating that “all is in a state of flux” referring to dynamic principles of contrasting and conflicting opposites.

2 Conceptual art includes practices where the final work can only be evidenced through notes, photographs or maps.

Artists: Francis Alÿs, Alexander Apóstol, Ivan Argote, Adriana Bustos, José Luis Cortés, David Lamelas, Jason Mena, Juan Alberto Negroni, Victor Sosa, Omar Velázquez, Norma Vila Rivero

Place|Time: Laboratorio de Artes Binarios, 1206 Ponce de León, Santurce, Puerto Rico, November 17, 2011 - December 15, 2011

Sponsors: Contempo Art Foundation Corp., Yellowmedia Group, Trápaga-Fonalledas Collection, GoPrint Puerto Rico, American Paper, Osviarte, Dsnotipo, AREA, Museo de Arte de Ponce