working statement

Glance, Glare, Gleam, Glimmer, Glint, Glisten, Glitter, Glow...


Virginia Ines Vergara’s work explores the nature of abstract images, beauty and the role of the artist. Vergara sociology, history, and information theory as themes and tools, and has developed a unique artistic practice that melds street photography with painterly abstraction, inspired by works utilizing dark room mistakes and manipulations. In her latest series of works, ”Glance, Glare, Gleam, Glimmer, Glint, Glisten, Glitter, Glow”, Vergara continues on this path by documenting the ubiquitous Manhattan flower stands. In doing so, she is able to find abstract works of art.

History and sociology in the past two centuries have been heavily influenced by ideas from information theory. It is impossible to find a perfect record of past events, and the complexity and sheer number of human interactions makes it necessary to search for reduced descriptions. Despite the complexity, much of the important information survives, it is just scrambled and difficult to decode. This is manifest in the study of small, seemingly insignificant historical objects. Though not a new idea (some of the important early thinkers include Lucretius and Laplace), the importance has exploded in the past 100 years, spurred by developments first in physics, and then in computer science. ”It from bit” is a dominant paradigm in the modern world. This scientific development exists in parallel with a several important artistic works, in particular by Borges, Calvino, and Stoppard, each putting pen to paper on the theme that tiny parts of the world contain much more about it then we would expect.

Many of Vergara’s works are explicitly or implicitly entwined with this theme, including her sculptural cameras and her documentation of air conditioning grate art. The G8 series explores these ideas in a number of ways. The history of flower stands parallel the evolution of Manhattan’s diverse, inhomogeneous neighborhoods, though this history is just the inspiration and not the main theme of her work. Just like it is possible to learn something about New York if you study the flower stands carefully enough, someone with knowledge of Vergara’s background and work would be able to partially reconstruct the thoughts that went into this series.

The choice of subject matter, flowers, also relates to this theme because of the purpose of flowers in nature, which is to communicate information from the plant to the outside world. This signal must be robust, and indeed flowers are considered to be one of the most archetypal examples of classical beauty. Vergara gets to this heart of this notion by breaking it, exploring the stability of the beauty of flowers under distortion, magnification, and manipulation (not to mention the color manipulations that are done to the flowers by the store owners). What she finds is striking, some aspects of the classical flower survive, but aesthetic strength of these images is actually in their abstract nature, transforming the symmetry of the flower into something entirely different. Instead of finding a scrambled, barely recognizable signal of what a flower is, Vergara found works of art. What emerges is a less ordered type of beauty, reminiscent of the differences between the change between classical objects, perfectly framed, with the chaotic scenes of nature.In particular, the idea that the completely abstract, unrecognizable images of the 1950s can be found in nature (and even in New York City) is fascinating. The success of such works was a surprise to many (and is still controversial), but Vergara’s work sheds new light on it.