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Odalis Valdivieso: Paper Folding Series

Alan Gutierrez

Odalis Valdivieso, Paper Folding Series, Installation view: Alejandra von Hartz Gallery, Miami. Courtesy of Alejandra von Hartz Gallery.Photo by Oriol Tarridas.

Dimensions Variable (November 17, 2012 – January 5, 2013)
Alejandra von Hartz Gallery (December 3, 2012 – January 26, 2013)
New Work Miami 2013 at Miami Art Museum (November 21, 2012 – June 2, 2013)

With her Paper Folding Series, Odalis Valdivieso uses the relatively new and quickly-evolving trajectory of digital photography against itself. The self-destruction is, however, in a well-composed guise. It is difficult to view these pieces as self-destructive because Valdivieso creates moments of nostalgia for Modernist aesthetics through a combination of image capturing, printing, cutting, painting, re-scanning, and digital manipulation. The process is repeated in various orders, making it potentially infinite, yet it ends at the arbitrary point at which Valdivieso decides to stop, print, and fold the print into a seductive object. What results resembles a finished work of art, functioning as both a plane of visual language and an object which facilitates the distribution of visual language. It could be said that Valdivieso is using digital photography in awareness of itself by allowing the physicality of the print to be as equally considered as the image itself.

Each untitled piece in the series of abstractions is relatively small, generally composed of simple geometric layers in pleasant color schemes. The source imagery is still visible but too ambiguous at this point to retain significance. The actual folding of the paper appears hand-done, with the sides left as unprinted white. In the Dimensions Variable showing there are several pairs of duplicated imagery; a duplicate pair is unapologetically side-by-side, accepting themselves as another file in the pool of image saturation resulting from highly accessible digital image production. Although there is self-doubt caused by the work’s potential for exact reproduction, the more significant issue at hand is that they present themselves as objects, having entered a realm typically reserved for painting or sculpture. In this place, the image doesn’t quite justify the necessity for its mode of presentation. Due to this unbalance, the humiliated image poses more questions than one expects at first observation. By proclaiming the works are “nothing more than folded paper,” Valdivieso makes evident the work’s own insecurities. Including an attempt to negate all sentiment and the lack of emotional accountability, the list of “downfalls” is what describes the repressed dynamism.

In the three distinct presentations, their arrangements are awkwardly formal—hung either singularly, paired, or in groups of three. In the lofty white space of Dimensions Variable, they surprisingly hold their own. At Alejandra von Hartz Gallery they are hung on temporary hallway walls leading to the office and storage, yet the pieces float above the functions of the space. In New Work Miami 2013, despite getting a little lost in the exhibition’s too-literal design, they again present themselves as both image and vessels of imagery.

Through a studio-based practice, each image is well-resolved. And despite the proposed shortcomings, the work seduces with allusions to formal aesthetic concerns. But it is their materiality and self-presentation that allows for them to be perceived in a parallel manner. This phenomenological viewing experience causes the work to end parabolically as, simply put, folded paper.