Shells of Visibility, 13.10-05.11.2023, solo show at Atelier Bella, Zürich, Switzerland.


Basic theories of labor economics are based on the simplifying assumption that individuals can divide their daily available 24 hours between work and leisure only. Agents will then choose an allocation of time precisely in such a way that individual utility is maximized with respect to a monetary compensation of their work efforts and the gained gratification of leisure.

Fees, offices, leisure and time, dissolving chess-boards, a preening figure in armor, and the originally black-feathered chicken Calimero - in Nicolás Sarmiento‘s drawings, socioeconomic fields of tension meet manga characters and popular culture in colorful and abstract landscapes. Many of the custom made passe-partouts seem off-centered, others follow the contours of the collaged drawings, third ones are immediately layered upon the drawing itself. Spotlight, side light, key light and cloud (2023) shows a domesticated warrior, who tries to wipe an elusive floor, asking for the appropriate working attire and activities that seem to run into the void. The collected exhibition texts in Snowflake on exhibition texts (2023), are piled up under an oversized snowflake that never seems to melt. On the one hand, they serve as inspiration; on the other, the artist sees them as a failed attempt to capture the wholeness of a reflection or artistic creation. A black bag in Equivalences (grey markets) (2023), is perforated by an office punch, a loopholed cash register further evokes the metaphorical image of a bottomless barrel. The individual drawings are snapshots, a collection of thoughts and reflections, which the artist usually records on paper in standard sizes.

Sarmiento understands this practice as a kind of diary, easily transportable and interchangeable, with limited needs of space and capital, allowing continuity and endurance. Originally conceived outside of a possible exhibition context, repeatedly also functioning as sketches for video-works and sculptures, they seem to attain a different legitimacy within a lacquered lime wood frame. Excluded from an output-driven cycle, also the assemblages of found objects find an alternative meaning through their exposure in Atelier Bella‘s shop-like showcases.

In Sarmiento‘s production, benefits of work, scarcity of resources, and the measurement of value play a central role. Often bordering on the absurd, conformities are rejected. Playing with the occurences of the space, the exhibition Shells of Visibility brings together drawings and objects from different places and times and inquires about the beginning and end of an artwork. What do we value? What can we see? At what point are our assessments approaching their limits?


Marius Quiblier.

Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.

"Shells of Visibility", installation view.

Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.

"Shells of Visibility", installation view.

Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.
Shells of Visibility, exhibition view.

"Shells of Visibility", installation view.

Equivalences, grey markets, 2023.
Equivalences, grey markets, 2023.

"Equivalences (grey markets)".
Velvet, wood, clay, found printed glass, cash register, ink on paper, cardboard, stone, silk, metal, wood stain, coin tube, ceramic and plastic tape.
52 x 70 x 38 cm. 2023.

Equivalences, grey markets, 2023.
Equivalences, grey markets, 2023.
Equivalences, grey markets, 2023.
Gebühren, increased hearing abilities while paying fees, 2023.

Gebühren, increased hearing abilities while paying fees, 2023.

"Gebühren/Increased hearing abilities while paying fees".
Mixed media on paper, artist frame.
77 x 104 cm. 2018/23.

Gebühren, increased hearing abilities while paying fees, 2023.
Gebühren, increased hearing abilities while paying fees, 2023.

"Gebühren/Increased hearing abilities while paying fees", details.
Mixed media on paper, artist frame.
77 x 104 cm. 2018/23.

Spotlight, side light, key light and cloud, 2023.

"Spotlight, side light, key light and cloud".
Mixed media on paper and cinefoil, artist frame.
84 x 104 cm. 2023.

Spotlight, side light, key light and cloud, 2023.
Bewerbung, correspondences, 2023.

"Bewerbung/Correspondences".
Pencil, marker and ink on paper, cinefoil, artist frame.
67 x 74 cm. 2023.

Bewerbung, correspondences, 2023.
Bewerbung, correspondences, 2023.

"Proficient sand I".
Collage, ballpoint pen, marker and ink on paper, artist frame.
67 x 74 cm. 2020/23.

Bewerbung, correspondences, 2023.
Bandwagon, conditions, 2023.
Bandwagon, conditions, 2023.

"Bandwagon (conditions)".
Collage, ballpoint pen, marker and ink on paper, artist frame.
84 x 104 cm. 2023.

Accountancy: Energy, Accountability and Fantasia, 2023.

"Accountancy: Energy, Accountability and Fantasia".
Mixed media and collage on paper, artist frame.
84 x 104 cm. 2019/2023.

Proficient sand, 2023.

"Proficient sand II".
Collage, ballpoint pen, marker and ink on paper, artist frame.
67 x 74 cm. 2023.

Shells of visibility, installation view.
Snowflake on exhibition texts, 2023.

"Snowflake on exhibition texts".
Inkjet print, wood, stone, frame points, paint, plastic bag, cardboard, highlighter pen, wood stain, unopened shell silver powder and japanese printing tool.
100 x 70 x 46 cm. 2023.

Snowflake on exhibition texts, 2023.
Snowflake on exhibition texts, 2023.
Snowflake on exhibition texts, 2023.
Snowflake on exhibition texts, details, 2023.

"Snowflake on exhibition texts", details.
Inkjet print, wood, stone, frame points, paint, plastic bag, cardboard, highlighter pen, wood stain, unopened shell silver powder and japanese printing tool.
100 x 70 x 46 cm. 2023.

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