Cesarco’s Artpace exhibition unites, for the first time, three different components of an ongoing project entitled Index (2000-08). The indices consist of alphabetized lists of ideas, categories, and people that allude to biographies or novels that have never been written. Accompanying the indices is The Two Stories, a video commissioned by Artpace. It portrays an alternative approach to storytelling that focuses on a narrator’s thoughts instead of the story he is reading aloud.
Index A-Z (2000) consists of twelve individually framed c-prints that are organized as large index pages. Many of the entries are a who’s who of modern and contemporary artists and philosophers interspersed with an occasional theoretical term. Cesarco notes that “the indices map the development of (his) interests, readings, and preoccupations and have thus become a form of self-portraiture that unfolds over time.” He concedes that this early ambitious project resulted in a “text that is a half-way biographical and half-way theory text; it is extremely personal, at times even hermetic, yet full of clichés.”
Continuing in 2003, Index (a Novel) is comprised of four large double-page spreads that reference a different kind of unwritten book: this time a love story. Unlike the first Index that was framed as list of artistic influences, Cesarco explains that Index (a Novel) “follows the structure of a romantic novel, repeating romantic archetypes and melodramatic clichés.” The result is a collection of words that underscore the humorous and difficult moments of our most intimate relationships.
Cesarco explains that Index (a Reading) from 2008 explores what an index is made up of and how it works in relation to the ideas of reading, writing, history, memory, and forgetting. The main headings listed in this series of ten large c-prints are much more comprehensive. They include not only titles of books and names of influential artists, but also states of being and emotions whose subheadings and cross-references help to flesh out a narrative that illuminates the relationship between scholarly research and one’s feelings toward it.
Finally, Cesarco re-imagines conventional story development in The Two Stories. In the video, the narrator is presumed to be retelling a story to a small audience in a family home, however, instead of hearing the story, a narrative concerning moments of distraction, nervousness, and boredom emerges. Like his previous video, Marguerite Duras’ India Song, (2006) that utilizes pre-existing film footage to create a mood, Cesarco adapts a text by the Uruguayan author Felisberto Hernández, this time revealing the vulnerability one feels while speaking in public. The Two Stories, like the three Index works, encourages viewers to become more actively engaged in understanding how one can continue to derive new meanings from text-based structures-to look beyond the obvious and find the hidden relationships that make up one’s daily existence and identity.