Mariana Castillo Deball - What we caught we threw away, what we didn't catch we kept
- Neil Cooper
- 17 April 2013
Works based on anthropological detritus from Mexican artist
Anthropological detritus forms the bulk of 'What we caught we threw away, what we didn't catch we kept', a new body of work by Mexican artist Deball, which was co-commissioned by Cove Park and the Chisenhale Gallery in London, where it transfers later in the year. Deball's starting point is the work of artist Eduardo Paolozzi, anthropologist Alfred Gell and explorer and archaeologist Alfred Maudslay, who learnt how to make paper moulds of ancient sculptures while on an expedition in 1881 in Guatemala. Deball herself excavates the trio's work to make a series of papier-mâché sculptures based on the templates the three set down.
Taken out of the forest and into a gallery space, each dried-up artefact is imbued with a monumental state of grace that's part homage, part re-appropriation to give an eerie sense of isolated and undiscovered worlds. Set against a series of archive images of the original casts, traps and other artefacts that inspired this show, there's a sense of hand-me-down souvenirs being fed from their roots to the global village that Debell seems to occupy.
If there's a danger here of ethnic fetishism, it's undercut by a wide-open sense of tranquillity, which allows the viewer the space to wander without ever feeling overwhelmed by the unfamiliar. With much of what's on show laying crumpled in tree-like formation on the floor, it's also the nearest most of us will get to such exotica without it being behind glass cases or else transposed into mass-market tat for those in search of faux-authenticity. In this way, we're all explorers here, and if it's a jungle out there, Debell has tamed the beasts unleashed for a more meditative way of being.
CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 18 May