Despacio’s mission is to keep doing what it has been doing for the past decade: consistently exploring new models of artistic and curatorial practice while remaining a driving force in the continued development of Central America’s artistic voice.
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Diego Arias Asch is an artist and filmmaker from San José, Costa Rica.

Absence of Logic

ArchivedHappened in March 2016
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In 2016, Despacio’s program and Central Archive, located alongside the exhibition space, will plunge with relish into an ocean of paradox and possibilities, freed from the necessity of making sense. Newly comprised of artworks, correspondence and traces of happenings and actions, it will stand as a testament to an extraordinary freedom from convention.

Critical voices of reason will be deconstructed in pursuit of free thinking.

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While most archives are banished to remote corners of their institutions, Despacio’s archive shares center stage within the exhibition space.

Despacio will realize its artistic and intellectual pursuit of absence in three acts that will unfold over three years:

  1. Absence of Logic starting March 2016
  2. Absence of Divisions starting March 2017
  3. Absence of Art starting March 2018

Each act brings together exhibitions, happenings, and Libraries in Residence around the theme, as well as a Central Archive, which is a collection of works that are carefully compiled and include physical art objects, correspondence, and traces of happenings and actions. At various times over the year, a selection of these works will be activated in the exhibition space alongside the archive itself.

The Totality of True Propositions (Before)

ArchivedHappened in March 2016
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Julien Prévieux’s library on view is a bookcase holding numerous books on historically outmoded subjects that are nowadays obsolete. This library resulting from gathering in public and private library collections brings together books, manuals and handbooks, whose ideas have not survived the inexorable passage of time.

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Vivian Sky Rehberg for Frieze Magazine

In 2012, the French artist Julien Prévieux was working an average of eleven hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds per day. We know this because his fellow artist, Martin Le Chevallier, conducted a month-long experiment in which he asked Prévieux to record his ‘non-artistic time’, his ‘low-intensity artistic time’, his ‘creative time’ and his ‘creative peaks’ in a specially designed, fold-out notebook. Le Chevallier then displayed Prévieux’s four-colour Bic pen (used to tick the boxes) and the charted results on a trestle-table installation as 11h29’15”, mesure du temps de travail d’un artiste (11h29’15” Measure of an Artist’s Working Hours, 2012).

While it might seem strange to begin a text about Prévieux by mentioning another artist, there’s too much sweet irony in Le Chevallier’s work to ignore. Prévieux, who deservedly won the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2014, is probably best known for one of his earliest projects, Lettres de non-motivation (Letters of Non-Application, 2000–07). This archive, which was published as a book in 2007, contains scores of covering letters Prévieux wrote in response to listings for management, manufacturing, sales and other jobs for which he had no, or dubious, qualifications and no real interest. In some of the Lettres de non-motivation, he outright refuses a job offer before it has even been made; in others, he explicitly critiques everything from the tone of the advert to company policy. In one of my favourites, and one that sets the tongue firmly in the cheek, Prévieux reproaches a company for seeking to hire a ‘glass cutter’: ‘Times have changed, Sir! You must absolutely update yourselves and propose jobs that correspond to the present […] We live in a post-industrial society, sawing can wait, but financial and leisure products or semi-conductors can’t […] You are impeding innovation so I must refuse this retrograde job your company is offering.’

Some companies took the time to reply to Prévieux’s letters, while others sent out standard rejections. But the artist was not sitting idly by. Instead, he chan­nelled his interest in labour and language into a conceptually coherent, yet formally multifarious, body of work that includes painting, sculpture, architecture, installation and performance.

Prévieux’s materials and media vary from project to project, but it’s fair to say that, along with text, design features prominently, both as an approach to making work and as a visible outcome. Have a Rest (2007), looks like a handcrafted leather bench curling around two wood-veneer towers, but it’s also a ‘copy’ of the first super-computer devised in 1977 by Seymour Cray. ‘D’Octobre a Février’ (From October to February, 2010) is a series of crew-neck pullovers made by knitters Prévieux recruited via the internet. The sleeves are black and the bodies are decorated with brightly coloured abstract patterns of little squares produced by software used for predicting and measuring crowd dynamics during moments of collective revolt. Yellow, for instance, represents the calm individuals in the crowd, while red represents the agitators. Each individual knitter used algorithmic data from a measured crowd to create the motif on the garment.

Prévieux’s focus on the interaction between humans and machines is not driven by a penchant for sci-fi, but relates to a broader interest in technology’s role in the evolution and decline of structures and systems of knowledge. In Atelier de dessin B.A.C. du 14ème arrondissement de Paris (Drawing Workshop B.A.C. of the 14th District of Paris, 2011), he taught four Paris policemen how to draw Voronoi diagrams from their crime-scene maps, demonstrating how the drawings would allow them to analyze the distribution of neighbourhood crime more effectively. Of course, computers can do this in an instant and, due to the slow and laborious process, the data the policemen produced was worthless. But the real value, according to Prévieux, was a series of ‘very successful’ abstract drawings.

Hands are invariably busy in Prévieux’s work: writing and building and knitting and drawing. Indeed, gesture has preoccupied the artist for some time. What Shall We Do Next? (2007–11) is an animated film screened from an old-fashioned overhead projector that demonstrates the hand gestures that will be needed to activate our future devices (smart phones, computers, etc.). These gestures are ‘designed’ and registered at the US patent office even before the devices on which they will be used are produced. Prévieux’s Prix Marcel Duchamp winning projects – a choreographed and spoken-word performance, an accompanying video, What Shall We Do Next? (Sequence No.2) and the video What Shall We Do Next? (Sequence No.3) (both 2014) – integrate and expand on this investigation of the role and power of ‘natural user interfaces’ in our lives.

In the first performance, four dancers re-enact the gestures that have entered the vocabulary of Hollywood sci-fi films over time, such as ‘wave to activate’, ‘swipe to dismiss’, etc. In the second performance, dancers execute moves that were contested during an ownership dispute over Martha Graham’s choreographic legacy, while the third contains a live update of the archive of future gestures. As the dancers move, one of the performers recounts the facts and background information in a genial, didactic manner. The video version of What Shall We Do Next? opens with the dancers making gestures while reciting the dates when the gestures were copyrighted, and goes on to interrogate, through voice and movement, how our ‘natural’ forms of social interaction are mediated by technologies, as well as some of the more clever or ludicrous inventions meant to facilitate interaction that were never produced or marketed. Welcome to the world of control, capture, recognize and detect, where gestures are codified and owned, and where their meanings and functions become increasingly difficult to keep track of.

Julien Prévieux lives in Paris, France. In 2014, he was awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp and has currently a solo show at the Centre Pompidou (until 1 February 2016).

Prévieux’s work was previously shown at the 48th Venice Biennale, the 10th Istanbul Biennial and the art fairs Fiac in Paris, Liste in Basel and Pulse in New York. His work is part of the collections of the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, the Fonds Municipal d’Art Contemporain de la ville de Paris and of Frac Brittany and Frac Nord-Pas-de-Calais. His work was exhibited at international solo exhibitions such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, Window 42 in London, Galerie Jousse Enterprise in Paris and at the San Francisco Art Institute. He participated in group exhibitions at various locations including the Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, CAPC – Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, Grand Palais and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

He is represented by Galerie Jousse Entreprise, Paris.

Selected Video Works

ArchivedHappened in November 2015
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Over the course of one month, Despacio made way for screening a selection of video artworks by international and Costa Rican artists. The solo-presentation of each video has been accompanied by a culinary event, that became an arena for discussion and exchange.

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The program was launched as an open platform for screenings and events on the interface between experimental off-culture and established video artists, as well as artists with almost zero critical history.

Featuring work by

Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker (Panama)
Fischli & Weiss (Switzerland)
Keren Cytter (Israel)
Alejandro Bonilla Rojas (Costa Rica)
Diego Arias Asch (Costa Rica)
Julian Gallese (Costa Rica)
Alejandro Ramírez (Costa Rica)
Carlos Fernández (Costa Rica)
Habacuc (Costa Rica)
Lucía Madriz (Costa Rica)
Marton Robinson (Costa Rica)
Eva & Franco Mattes (Italy)

The screenings took place from Nov 5 until Dec 12, 2015.

Diego Arias Asch – $400

ArchivedHappened in September 2015
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Not long after we met, I saw Diego by chance in a local market disguised as a street vendor. He was selling unauthorized copies of Ben Hur, secretly blended with homemade footage of Jesus Christ’s journey to the cross. For which he visited several nursing homes dressed as the son of God and picked and recorded fights with the elders.

How are Diego's paintings? Not less absurd, and equally revealing.

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Diego Arias Asch’s attitude towards painting is the same as his attitude towards life.

Let me set an example: Not long after we met, I found Diego in one of Costa Rica's large market places (Alajuela’s Central Market), where he disguised himself as a street vendor. He was selling unauthorized copies of Ben Hur.

However, no one knew that these copies had been partially edited with footage of a homemade version of Jesus Christ’s journey to the cross. Diego visited several nursing homes dressed as the son of God where he tried to pick fights with the elders; the scenes were musicalized.

Thoughts by Guillermo Tovar Carazo

The exhibition took place from September 16 to October 16, 2015.

Diego Arias Asch, born 1988, is a visual artist and filmmaker based in San José, Costa Rica. He graduated from the School of Communications of the University of Costa Rica, specialized in audiovisual production. He studied drawing and animation with artist Guillermo Tovar Carazo.

In 2009 he started producing highly manipulated and irrelevant documentaries, prominent among them is ‘I’ve Lost My Friends’ (2012), shot in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest Festival. In 2010 he established the Doyle Club for the production and diffusion of his collaborative projects. In 2012 he performed as a staff dancer for a Flaming Lips gig.

In 2014 he co-created the Feliz Feliz publishing company in order to publish a young man’s first novel; he then closed Feliz Feliz and is currently editing Doyle Club’s second art-book. From December 2014 he’s been performing on a long-term feature by filmmaker Neto Villalobos about himself and his relationship with designer Paz Gutiérrez Guerinoni.

His first feature-film is programmed to be released in mid-2017.

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