Artist Research, Miler Lagos

Miler Lagos, Fragmentos del Tiempo (Fragments of the Time), 2012

Piled and carved newspaper

What drew me to this Lagos’s piece in particular was the basic concept of how he thought about a fragment. A fragment can be literally anything, but I believe Lagos’s piece to that of the most important fragment we have.

‘In Miler Lagos’s work, time runs backwards. The title of his work alone – Fragments of Time – suggests an attempt on the artist’s part to slow things down, but the form of the work itself goes further still: these are branch-like forms composed entirely of sheets of newspaper, densely stacked together and sanded at the edges, which generates both a mottled, trunk-like surface and a wood effect colour. Lagos’ work enacts both a fantasy of return (the paper turning back into its natural source material) and a parody of it: these broken branches are, after all, dead, and their listless slumping has something of the exhausted body about it, something worn-out. The density of the work’s structure recalls, in cross-section, the striations of cut wood, and points out the uselessness of the dated news stories contained within – these can’t be read, but they wouldn’t be, anyway.

Where the branches stop, the newspaper – a Colombian daily called El Tiempo, from which the title’s pun springs – is revealed, in thin slices, like a preserved sausage. Fragments of photographs appear, or half-legible headlines. What the thin lines of text most strikingly evoke, though, are the rings within tree trunks – which, of course, point to its age. Time, here, is measured not in organic growth, but in the reception of information. Set against the impassivity and quiet nobility of natural forms, this is a quiet critique of a contemporary world drowning in unprocessed information; little wonder there’s a sadness in these idling forms, scattered in our path.’

 

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