A Twilight Zone On The Bright Side: Graciela Cassel’s Artwork

Looking Through by Graciela Cassel


By Altug Icilensu

Our perception works as it was suggested in Gestaltian psychology; we all like to think in bits and pieces and try to gather this information in a way to make sense to us. Yet, in that case it is not in question the “reality” differs person to person depending the personal reception of those pieces, which belongs to not only an objective realm but also exposed to very subjective filters from the moments we receive them and to finally categorization and placements. Thus, there is a significant importance of how one describes ‘reality’, especially in such a vague, plasmic area of what is called ‘art’.

In this case, Graciela Cassel is very much aware of the fact the audience has a critical role to define her art. Artists enhance the reality by adding some other layers into it, by midwifing its transformation into another reality even though that “reality” was already in question, even before it was given a life.

As Cassel, loves Magritte it finds a similar tone in her work. She likes the surreal touch in sake of receiving and conveying the messages to emerge the “unknown” sectors in our minds and to indicate “what is really going on” there. It is sort of a game well may be defined like ‘hide and seek’. It is more the fine line the artist likes to play in our brain, the edge of reality just enough to cruise into surrealism without making us hesitant to leap into that journey.

At this point, one may ask the question if the whole creation and process of art making are subject to such variants, then what is the point of creating a ‘piece‘ as I asked Graciela. Her sincere response perhaps reflected the same urge of the primitive man; “I need to do

Although we still have hard time to place our finger on it, what we know is that it is a ‘natural urge’. As we don’t question our natural instincts, we should pay the same respect to the urge of creating. The change does exist yet the urge is always the same even though our means has been changed by time to create. The urge of creation is almost same with the reason of existentialist  goals; one secures the other.

Artist’s video titled ‘City Life’ for instance, is a flowing scenes in a cinematic fluidity. The trains are acting like the movie “peliculas” each representing another frame in the scene. It creates the illusion of the filmic life, a flowing scene, kind of repetitive in its own way. Graciela is quite marginal in her video work yet she does that without screaming, very sincerely and quitely just in a very tranquil mood.

Let’s take a close look at her piece ‘Traversing’. A lunar looking structure which has stairs with banisters in a diptych form somehow reminded me Méliès’s ‘Trip to the Moon’. In this familiar sense of surrealism, the stairs create the feeling of reaching and accessing somewhere, but in fact they are just floating. Another work of hers also comes with a leitmotif of ‘stairs to nowhere’ in a three dimensional series called ‘The Edge’. The white boxes framing the work may be seen as coffins as well as a type of shrine dedicated to an X.
A figure standing in the middle of the stairs obviously has nowhere to go, facing to the audience. In this dreamlike state Graciela meets ‘the fourth wall’, a.k.a. the viewer.

The truth is like the telephone game, changing from ear to ear, it always re-forms as she states. Her works whisper fringe feelings of a twilight zone in a subtle way, and fortunately her light is closer to the dawn of the upcoming day. Because the hope exists; just as the urge of creation, the art and the artist do.



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