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Mariana Castillo Deball - What we caught we threw away, what we didn't catch we kept


CCA, Glasgow, until May 18th 2013
3 stars
Anthropological detritus forms the bulk of this 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 explorer and archaeologist 
Alfred Maudslay, who learnt how to make paper moulds of ancient 
sculptures while on an expedition in 1881 in Guatamala;  artist Eduardo 
Paolozzi and anthropologist Alfred Gell, Debell herself excavates the 
trio's work to make a series of papier mache sculptures based on the 
templates the three set down.

Taken out of the forest and into a gallery space, there's a monumental 
state of grace imbued into each dried-up artefact 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 which 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 fore 
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.

The List, April 2013

ends

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