(about the exhibition Deuce, by Miguel Monroy)
Text review at Letras Libres
In the prologue of the movie Match Point, a tennis ball is frozen above a net while the main character’s voiceover is heard: “There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net and for a split second it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.”
Deuce, name given to a temporary tie in a tennis match and that can only be broken when one of the opponents scores two consecutive points, was inaugurated in Alterna y Corriente on February 11. The main piece of this exhibition consists of a tennis training machine (Tenis Tutor) that points towards an edge of the gallery’s architecture. Each ball that the device launches bounces off the walls and returns to the dispenser to be spat out again. The balls return to their starting point due to the effect of the same force that took them out of there, in such a way that the tutor robot ties, as the title indicates, but with itself. The piece seems anchored in that moment in which anything can happen, or maybe nothing, as Woody Allen’s film puts it.
Miguel Monroy’s work alters everyday systems to put them in conflict with themselves. Through splitting and perpetual balance, it produces a self-boycott that results in a metaphor of the absurd: In Versus (2005), a slinky that goes down with the force of an escalator that goes up; in Onomatopoeia (2008), a recorder on a glass shelf reproduces the onomatopoeia of silence (shhhhh), the decibles end up breaking the shelf, the recorder falls to the ground, breaks and stops playing or Equivalent (2005), the action to change one thousand pesos to dollars and then to pesos successively, until the exchange commission disappears the capital.
It was Epicurus who sensed that chance plays a decisive role in everyday life, to the point that he explained the origin of the universe from a contingency. Before there was nothing and, at the same time, all the elements were there, plummeting into the void in an infinite rain of atoms. At a certain point, without us knowing how, when or why, one of those atoms suffered an infinitesimal deviation in the trajectory of its fall and produced a carom of atoms that generated unexpected combinations. And from collision to collision, the world was created. By chance.
In that sense, Deuce’s draw is not temporary (as in tennis) but random. From time to time, some balls draw a trajectory that does not take them back to the dispenser and it is not very clear how, when or why they fall out of the net. That little “mistake”, that moment that goes beyond the plans, is what Lucretius, based on Epicurus’s rain of atoms, called clinamen: the minimal but significant deviation that an encounter of these produces. The second in which the ideas, meeting with others, colliding, escaping from the system, happen. In the exhibition room it is evident that, despite the adaptations, the piece fails to stabilize the absurdity of the system. Unlike Versus, Against the Clock and Equivalent where everything is calculated, in Deuce chance appears, changes the meaning of things and has the last word. The piece reveals to us not only that a tie is not possible, but also that the utopia of control, even of our own lives, is always fissured by contingency.
Verónica Gerber Bicecci