Commonwealth and Council

Memory Screen

Cayetano Ferrer


Commonwealth and Council presents Memory Screen by Cayetano Ferrer. Through his inquiry into conservation and restoration practices, Ferrer examines the cultural and psychological dimensions of efforts to fill gaps in knowledge when reconciling fragmentary objects. The works in Memory Screen—amalgamated from disparate remnant components—assert a seemingly self-determined logic and coherence while showing the seams and fissures that inflect the patchwork frames of reference, both personal and cultural, we use to make sense of the world.

A tall ornamental wooden screen—made of found furniture scraps and newly carved transitional elements—focuses the central gallery space. Beneath it, a low sculpture frames a small section of floor, resolving a center from which to look out across a sprawling synthetic-organic assemblage of infills and facsimiles that adjoins a neoclassical marble fragment of unknown origin. This multifarious terrain maps the wandering inner world of a selfhood cobbled together from diverse strands of memory and experience, unfolding by the improvised logic of hybridity and pastiche. The work is illuminated through translucent overhead slats that fill damaged sections in the gallery’s ceiling with phantom reproductions of its missing parts.

Openings cut into the wall between the front and back rooms hold scale replicas of 16th century stained glass windows. The painted glass representations are left out, while putty and wire render the lines traced not only by the lead cames that bordered the original images, but also centuries of welded repairs by artisans and restorers. This palimpsest anatomy both manifests and obfuscates its accumulated history, at once original skeleton and scaffolding, body and prosthesis. 

Works interrogating different mythologies of Los Angeles occupy the front and back rooms. A glass and metal study for a transit maintenance building facade in downtown Los Angeles proposes a display of fragments from the now-demolished Sixth Street Bridge, a concrete viaduct adorned with Art Deco swoops that spanned the Los Angeles River. The bridge's hard elegance had served as an evocative backdrop in films from the noir era through the recent past, a nod to the pathological drive of modern progress. Situating these remnants amid a classical templar order of pillars and niches, the facade becomes a historical hodgepodge of light poles posing as columns and other fragments gathered in reliquaries. Preserving the vestiges of past building labor, this piece balances material formalism with a critical recuperation of modernist forms, reintegrating material history and collective memory into the fabric of the city. 

If the bridge monument presents a fossil record of Los Angeles brutalism, the plaster model in the back room explodes the hyperreal milieu constructed in Hollywood cinema. Its facade relief panels, cast from a motley assortment of architectural ornaments found in the Warner Brothers production shop, restages simulated movie architecture as a riotous jumble of constructions in flux, evoking a phantasmagoria of corporeal and organic forms.

In Memory Screen, Ferrer interrogates devices that filter and frame how we apprehend our surroundings, thus drawing the viewer to the negative spaces and voids around their structures. Working with forms shaped by multiple authors, he proposes compositions where existent forms morph into imagined ones, acknowledging a psychological tendency to extrapolate the unknown to construct a comfortable sense of wholeness, drawing on our inherited values, social codes, and personal proclivities.

Cayetano Ferrer (b. 1981, Honolulu, Hawaii; lives and works in Los Angeles) received his MFA from the University of Southern California and BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. He has held solo exhibitions at Southard Reid, London, UK (2018); Podium, Oslo, Norway (2018); Faena Art Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2017); and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA (2015). His work has been included in group exhibitions at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017); Hessel Museum of Art, Bard, NY (2015); Swiss Institute, New York (2014), and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012). Ferrer was awarded a 2015 Art + Technology Lab grant from Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a 2013 Artadia Award.