Cara Despain “Slow Burn” at Spinello Projects

Spinello Projects presents the gallery’s first solo exhibition from Miami-based artist Cara Despain.

Much of the identity of a country and its attendant cultural disposition can be attributed to settlement and the acquisition of land and ultimately, wealth–in the US and elsewhere. These things historically have often been won by the use of force–both overtly violent and invisibly perpetrated. The American west in particular contains narratives of prosperity, disappointment, destruction, with attendant racism, classism, and sexism that persist in our national and cultural identity as a whole–from Western films and Warner Bros. cartoons to the global image of the romanticized American cowboy in panoramic vistas, to the lawns we keep on our property.

Slow Burn nods to the tropes used to portray this dimension of identity in a simple way. Set against panoramic desert landscapes, as a four-channel immersive video installation, a fuse burns endlessly across the foreground from left to right. This implies an explosion that never arrives and can be applied in a broader context — the burning wick surely will ignite dynamite (to open a mine, to make a road cut, to destroy a building, to alter land) or detonate a bomb of some kind (to kill, to subdue, to destroy), yet you never see it. It is quietly on a path of destruction, and the anticipation is an infinity loop that repeats itself in perpetuity, un-sated.

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