3 FEB - 16 MAR, 2024


Assistance: Alberto Perera

Editing and translation: Diego Gerard Morrison

Production: Profunda studio

Documentation: Mara Arteaga

Preface: Penned prior to the enactment of Marx Palimpsest 

Does art, in Deborah Castillo's hands, metamorphose into a silent rebellion, an eloquent gesture of erasure which challenges entrenched narratives? Within the symphony of ink and charcoal, do the meticulously crafted letters on the gallery walls whisper untold stories of unravelling ideologies? Does her body, draped in a worker’s garb, symbolise the unmarked labour embedded in societal creation and deconstruction? Do the blurred words and fragmented expressions, born of the heavy eraser in the shape of Marx's head, echo the nuanced interplay between liberation and oppression? Does Castillo's concept unfold as a palimpsest, each performance an intricate layer revealing traces of old narratives, inviting the contemplation of the mutable nature of language and power?

Marx Palimpsest, a piece of writing action that sculpts art from the fabric of contradiction, weaves into Castillo's broader narrative of dismantling idols and challenging the autocracy of power. Through the performance, Castillo orchestrates an immersive experience, inviting the audience to delve into the contemplation of the historical tapestry woven by ideologies—both liberating and oppressive in nature.

The Act of Max Palimpsest

The palimpsest is comprised of three distinct galleries. The first gallery, designated as the Tool Room, houses three essential elements: eraser, workwear, and manuscript. In the adjacent Index Room, phrases extracted from Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto are meticulously copied and edited onto the walls. Finally, the Writing Room encompasses all dimensional surfaces adorned with lines of text, with the manuscript's height limited to one and a half meters, matching the artist's stature. The thick charcoal pencil strokes emulate a disciplined handwriting, accommodating both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as ascenders and descenders, setting the stage for the ensuing writing action.

The palimpsest is conducted by a series of writing and editing actions. It began with a subdued intensity, gradually evolving into a meticulous process of erasure. With each deliberate stroke of the eraser, the coherent text of the manifesto disintegrated, yielding blurred lines and fragmented expressions. Each palimpsested action aimed to destabilise the prevailing orderliness, logic, and authority. Despite extensive redactions, the textual significance persisted relatively smoothly toward a new interpretation. The erasure unfolded with a deliberate, almost ritualistic rhythm, underscored by Castillo's graceful yet determined movements, masking the physical toll of her labor. Throughout the action, Castillo exuded a profound sense of presence and purpose, despite the fact that, still, ‘this is labor, physically taxing work’ (Diana Taylor).

Deborah Castillo is a Mexico City-based multidisciplinary artist, interested in exploring the relationships between power and the body. Having left Venezuela, her country of origin, her practice has been deeply marked by migration and displacement. Castillo employs different mediums, incorporating performance, video, photography, sculpture, and installation in order to dissect the grand idea of power, its structures, and its weight on sexuality, social expectations, desire, identity, and the construction of contemporary myths. Via a method of play and extensive experimentation, she facilitates a space of discovery within constructed contexts, inviting the audience to assemble their own meanings.

Castillo holds an MFA and BFA from Armando Reverón Higher Education School of Fine Arts Caracas, Venezuela. Deborah has been granted numerous awards and residencies including Franklin Furnace Fund grant (2019-2020), NYC. NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, (2015), NYC. The Banff Center, Artist in Residence Program in Visual Arts (2015) Canada. Atlantic Center for the Arts (2014), Florida and London Print Studio, (2007) UK as well as “Premio Armando Reveron”; AVAP in the “Young Artist Category” (2013), “XI Salón Eugenio Mendoza” Award, Sala Mendoza, (2003); VI Salón CANTV, Jóvenes con FIA” Award, (2003) Caracas, Venezuela and more. Her work has been exhibited at Museum of Arts and Design, NYC, New Museum, NYC, small Mellon, NYC, Rufino Tamayo Museum and Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico city, Escuela de Bellas Artes, Bolivian Biennial SIART, Bolivia, The broad Museum, Los Angeles, ICA, London, UK, Hemispheric Institute of politics, NYC and many others.