After, War Games

Cameron Gutierrez
April 14-31 2024
Opening Reception Tuesday April 16th at 7:00pm

Maryland Institute College of Art
Main Zero Gallery
1300 W. Mt Royal Ave Baltimore, MD 21217

In After, War Games, Cameron Gutierrez dives into the eerie nature of the seeing eye, each photograph seeming to represent a mundane scene, but through the lens of the camera taking on an unfamiliarity that is hard to shake off, the Freudian unheimlich. A mango that looks like a wounded finger, a burning body that happens to be a President’s doll, a stranger that looks at you as if you’re barging your way into their life, these images seethe with unspoken violence that lingers out of frame, and in between every violence a still life or a close-up reminds us of the artificiality of it all. This body of work probes into the aftermaths of the armed conflicts that shaped Nicaragua and Colombia in the 80s and 90s, and how it feels to exist (to grow, to become) in these conditions. The invisible US imperialism that played a major role in these conflicts is always off-frame, but its presence can be felt throughout the work.

After, War Games regresses the logic of the image down to its voyeuristic origins. Gutierrez’s photographs look at you just as much as you look at them. And it’s in that interstitial space of seeing and being seen that the work takes on another meaning. The eye behind the camera interrogates the right to photograph the Other (and as a simulacrum of reality, the right to desensitize it), not by making any grand statements or political stances, but by trying to pull the rug out from under our feet, to show us less than what we expect to see. The Games are never there, the War is never there—we’re always late and always a little out of frame for the “content that we were seemingly promised. Framing is almost a weapon in Gutierrez’s eye. The images are cropped aggressively, the gaze of the photographs eerily observes you, the subjects are not complicit with Gutierrez’s photography and so when they look at the camera we are reminded that this is not the World, this is just a representation of it.

There is an intentional chaos inherent to this work because the gaze we impart upon the World is just a failed attempt to organize it. Gutierrez knows it, and so his gaze deals with this imbalance as a tool for his art. He’s certain, as every keen eye is, that the only way to survive disarray is to climb inside of it.

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