Alejandro Cesarco describes his practice as addressing questions of “repetition, narrative, and the practices of reading and translating.” Artworks take the form of film and video, prints and photographs, text and drawings, among others, and evince a deep engagement with the histories and aesthetics of Conceptual Art. With a poetic, sometimes romantic, other times melancholic air, they represent a sustained investigation into time, memory, and how meaning is felt.

Many of Cesarco’s artistic strategies point to the influence of literature on his practice, structurally and conceptually, directly and indirectly. Certain works take the form of the index, the dedication, and the table of contents. Texts by authors such as Robert Walser, Jorge Luis Borges, Marguerite Duras, and Clarice Lispector are quoted in structure or subject matter. A similar “personal canon” could be drawn from the fields of cinema and art. Over all, Cesarco’s methodologies variously mine the possibilities of tropes and archetypes, inspiration and appropriation, genre and style.

At the Renaissance Society, Song features a selection of previous work alongside two newly commissioned projects. This tightly conceived exhibition suggests themes of reading, re-reading, duration, directionality, and chronology. The installation of artworks in Song carries a particular tempo, closer to the time of reading than the time of looking. Rhythm is created in Cesarco’s work by silences and withholdings (by dividing time)—an aesthetic that the artist has elsewhere characterized as “muted melodrama.” Through an insistent repetition and austerity of means, Cesarco creates a pattern that begins to reveal how the works’ emotions lay in their tone: it is this tone and speed, and the particular mode of attention that they demand, that communicate equally as much as what is being narrated.

Alejandro Cesarco (1975) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Play at Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin (2015), Prescribe The Symptom at Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2015), and Loyalties and Betrayals at Murray Guy, New York (2015). He recently produced a public art project, Words Like Love: Alphaville, First Scenes, for SculptureCenter, New York (2017). Cesarco is also director of the non-profit arts organization Art Resources Transfer, dedicated to creating more egalitarian access to the arts and literacy by activating the key components of the printed book—publication, distribution, and spaces of reading.