Marco Maggi


September 12 – November 7, 2019

Opening reception: Thursday, September 12, from 6 to 8 PM


Josée Bienvenu is pleased to present Initialism, Marco Maggi’s 9th solo show with the gallery. The exhibition will revolve around a site-specific installation. Upon entering the space, one can detect foundations or ruins of possible drawings: the impulse and its brake, initials on the threshold that separate the visual arts from blindness. Ignitions of drawings spread on the ceiling,  floor, and walls of the gallery space. They seem like hints for a treasure hunt, an escape room to challenge the viewer. No one will be able to locate all of the colored particles or detect the totality of the fragments.


"Initialism is the farewell of the written word; reading a message that only includes initials feels like walking through the ruins of the Roman Empire. We are condemned to write shorter and shorter to understand less and less.


At first, abbreviations were clear and recognizable: CIA, FBI, POTUS, DC, GPS, NYC, AM, PM, FM, ATM, IBM, USPS, WWW. More significative and more confusing is the initialization of sentences that take more space to translate. ROFL, HTH, TBC, IMHO, YW, OMG, LMK, LOL, ETA. Rolling On the Floor Laughing, Hope That Helps, To Be Continued, In My Humble Opinion, You’re Welcome, Oh My God, Let Me Know, Laughing Out Loud, Estimated Time of Arrival.


This reductionist obsession first affected numbers. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were declared useless by the binary system. No number today will question the hegemony of 0 and 1, icons of a century attracted to the extremes, an era that erases nuances and synonyms at full speed. Submerged in the digital world, we abandon the three senses that resist online travel: taste, scent, and touch. In this impoverished context, our vocabulary is particularly affected. Ten opposite adjectives are enough to qualify or disqualify anything or anybody in a second.


Even worse, words lose letters every day: abbreviations, acronyms, leet-speak, shorthand, and truncation. These are all strategies to save time and occult meaning, simplifying communication in order to be less and less clear. Initialism is not compatible with slow communication methods such as letters in envelopes, postage stamps, or even checking emails. Spelling initials is undoubtedly the most radical proposal in tweets, chats, instant messages, etc. If the richness of language and vocabulary was a basic condition to conceive and formulate precise ideas, the “jivarization” of the dictionary will certainly shrink our heads.


For days, I have been trying to think with initials only. This summer, I feel nostalgic for the 21 consonants; this autumn, I will prepare to defend the 5 vowels. The initial of a drawing is a very difficult point to locate. In a few years, abstract drawing might replace initialism to become the preferred language of the media and social networks.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (Marco Maggi, 2019)


Born in Montevideo, UY in 1957, Marco Maggi lives and works in New Paltz, New York. His solo exhibition, O Papel é Inocente, was recently on view at the Museu Brasileiro da Escultura (MuBE), Sao Paulo, BR as well as in Latinoamerica: Volver al Futuro, at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Buenos Aires (MACBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina. He represented Uruguay at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. In 2013, he received the Premio Figari (Career Award), UY. Select exhibitions include: Nasher Sculpture Center,Dallas, TX, Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, BR; New York Public Library, New York; East Wing Biennial, Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House, London; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH (2017); 3rd Bienal de Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Espacio Monitor, Caracas, VE (2016); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; The Morgan Library & Museum, New York (2015); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paulo, BR (2012); NC-arte, Bogota, CO (2011); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2007); Fifth Gwangju Biennial, KR (2004); VIII Havana Biennial, CU (2003); 25th Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, BR (2002).