January 2008, Pascual Sisto @ de Soto

 Pascual Sisto:  Elevator (2007) single channel video courtesy de Soto, Los Angeles CA

Pascual Sisto: Everything Must Go
Closed Dec 29 at de Soto, Downtown LA

By Shana Nys Dambrot

Los Angeles-based photographer, video artist and slyly subversive conceptual artist Pascual Sisto makes profound and lovingly crafted work about simultaneity and inertia, resolution, destruction and endlessness; and he has a great hoot of a good time doing it. His latest body of work, Everything Must Go (selections of which will be featured in the upcoming photoLA art fair beginning Jan 11 in Santa Monica) is something of a tour de force, featuring two photography series and two videos, all of which represent heights of achievement for the artist and depths of enjoyment for the viewer. Though without the benefit of sound and motion, the pair of Untitled c-prints from 2006 depicting brightly colored smoke explosions in remote desert landscape speak volumes on Sisto’s slightly naughty sense of humor and the lengths to which he will pursue an idea. Creating controlled, illicit events in the real world and using straight photography to document them, rather than resorting to available technology-based shortcuts and illusion, he demonstrates the unfettered curiosity of both a child and a scientist and his enduring interest in factoring the vagaries of time and the untamable laws of physics into his image-making equation. This deliberately labor-intensive process he embraces is relatively rare in the practice of conceptual art, but it yields results. In “Elevator” (2007, single channel video installation) for example, a set of stainless steel elevator doors in an unremarkable lobby repeatedly attempt to close, a feat thwarted by an unattended pile of luggage spilling out of the compartment and onto the spotless, unpopulated floor with the haughty inconvenience of a double-parked car. There is just enough random variation in intervals between attempted shuttings to create a mesmerizing drama, fraught with the promise of a resolution that never arrives, and a mellow level of spectacle analogous to staring at a fire, and just as engrossing. What sets this work apart – what sets Sisto apart among his generation of talented video artists – is the formal sophistication of the set up. Those suitcases, the red one at the bottom left in particular, are organized and lit like a Vermeer, with raking hot lights from the left and a staggered topography of hue and shadow that carries just as much drama and spectacle as the action going on up top. The other major video work “Salamander” (2006) is a multi-channel video collage featuring high-res, lushly hued and sumptuously filmed stock footage explosions which Sisto describes as “digital ready-mades”. Its dissonant symphony of loud explosions resolves itself into a dull almost tidal lullaby soon enough, and the hypnotic effect of a wall-size screen literally bursting with light and color is decadent, addictive and cathartic; as unlikely a source of classical beauty as you might imagine, but the seamless, shameless pleasure of it is, in the end, irresistible and the cosmic supply of things to blow up, thankfully, appears infinite.


Link to photoLA http://artfairsinc.com/photola/2008/

Shana Nys Dambrot

Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Downtown LA. She is the Arts Editor for the LA Weekly, and a contributor to Flaunt, Art and Cake, Artillery, and Palm Springs Life.

She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes essays for books and catalogs, curates and juries a few exhibitions each year, is a dedicated Instagram photographer and author of experimental short fiction, and speaks at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. She is a member of ArtTable and the LA Press Club, and sits on the Boards of Art Share-LA and the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, the Advisory Council of Building Bridges Art Exchange, and the Brain Trust of Some Serious Business.


Photo of Shana Nys Dambrot by Osceola Refetoff


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