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PATRICIA FERNÁNDEZ: HEARTBEATS

Commonwealth and Council presents Heartbeats, an exhibition comprising Patricia Fernández’s explorations of perception and embodiment of temporality, in a year when time felt indeterminate or elastic. Hand-carved clocks and paintings of lunar calendars manifest her continual efforts to mark time amid uncertainty and isolation, pondering systems of timekeeping and a sense of simultaneity.

Retreats from Los Angeles to the rural desert, mountains, and valleys of California—the Mojave, the Cascade Range, the Long Valley Caldera—led Fernández to perceive time abstractly. Activities like walking and raking the land began to take over her days; as the need to regulate everyday life waned, so did the utility of measuring time. Gradually, she began removing the clocks’ hands, and timekeeping itself came instead to stand for the ambiguity of time—the feeling of time passing. The clocks, each beating out a different rhythm, signify a pace unique to the individual, like a heartbeat: an internal clock.

Patricia Fernández: Heartbeats, installation view at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, 2021. Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández: Heartbeats, installation view at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, 2021. Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández: Heartbeats, installation view at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, 2021. Courtesy of the gallery

Fernández (b. 1980, Burgos, Spain; lives and works in Los Angeles) became drawn to the unobtrusive: waiting periods, desert debris—things that persist outside our notions of land, progress, or history. Created during the perpetuity of lockdown, the objects in Heartbeats posit an interstitial significance, arising from the in-betweens.

Fernández affixed various objects, found either in the landscape or in her personal archive, to the face of each clock. She raked the land, unearthing rocks and wood, as well as buried pieces of tin which she then used as painting surfaces. Assembled together, these bits and pieces amalgamate to an indeterminate provenance, derived from natural processes (rocks, formed through volcanic upheavals, eroded pocket-sized by water, fire, and wind; wood spalled off trees and bleached by the sun) and from the artist’s personal history (pieces of wood carved by her grandfather in Spain; remnants culled from her own past work).

Fernández’s practice foregrounds this kind of salvage: several paintings, begun 2009-2010 and completed in 2020, record shapes originally drawn in travel sketchbooks, dating as far back as 2000. Fernández sculpted these shapes in clay, then rendered them back into two dimensions in the paintings. The clay studies have since been destroyed, the paintings the only remaining index of these actions and processes.

Heartbeats imbricates various threads of history into layered confusions of time, encapsulated into objects. Echoing Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (Perfect Lovers), the clocks hang in pairs despite their asynchronous rhythms. Instead of gradually diverging, Fernández unites the two separate chronologies in a side-by-side polyrhythm.

Patricia Fernández, Self-existing Moon in October, 2020, Hand-carved walnut, oil on tin. Closed: 8.75 x 7.5 x 2 in (22 x 19 x 5 cm); open: 8.75 x 15 x 1 in (22 x 38 x3 cm). Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández, Electric Moon in October, 2020, Hand-carved walnut, oil on tin. Closed: 10.75 x 7.5 x 2 in (27 x 19 x 5 cm); open: 10.75 x 15 x 1 in (27 x 38 x 3 cm). Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández, Rhythmic Moon in December (Long Valley Caldera), 2020, Hand-carved walnut, oil on tin, metal, house paint, second hand, quartz clock movement, 18 x 17 x 1.5 in (46 x 43 x 4 cm). Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández, Galactic moon in February, 2020, Hand-carved poplar, walnut, mahogany, bone. Closed: 10.5 x 7.25 x 1.5 in (27 x 18 x 4 cm); open: 10.5 x 14.5 x .75 in (27 x 37 x 2 cm). Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández, Galactic moon in February, 2020, Hand-carved poplar, walnut, mahogany, bone. Closed: 10.5 x 7.25 x 1.5 in (27 x 18 x 4 cm); open: 10.5 x 14.5 x .75 in (27 x 37 x 2 cm). Courtesy of the gallery

BOX (A PROPOSITION FOR TEN YEARS). PATRICIA FERNÁNDEZ WITH LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY ARCHIVE

Since 2013, Box (a proposition for ten years) for Commonwealth and Council has been exhibited yearly with its contents—repurposed fragments, writings, drawings, paintings, and sculptural elements—as they accumulate, transform, and grow. Through the personalized exchange system initiated by this time-based sculpture, artist Patricia Fernández fosters a relationship with the space.

For its 8th anniversary, Fernández collaborated with Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA) and Autonomous Oral History Group (AOHG) to document the box’s contents and record an oral history of the project. AOHG has produced two vinyl recordings: one contains an interview with Commonwealth and Council (led by LACA’s Director, Hailey Loman) covering the project’s origins and ongoing relationship with the space; the other memorializes Box (a proposition for ten years) through Fernández’s reflections on eight years of correspondence and object sharing, offering insight into the box’s own archive, the ephemera that comprise and reveal an interpersonal relationship, and the underlying logic binding archivist and artist.

As in previous years, viewers are invited to peruse the letters, drawings, and other objects collected in the box, including elements added over the past year. Additionally, they can listen to its oral histories on a record player framed with hand-carved walnut wood, similar to the box’s other elements, and incised with the signature x-motif shared across the artist’s and her grandfather’s practices.

Three banners serve as a finding aid, collating information on the archive’s contents and organization to help visitors navigate the materials. Viewers are invited to remotely access an online database comprising the artist’s metadata, information about the box’s contents, and photo documentation. The box is a repository—archiving a relationship—with a space, with a friend—through an exchange of objects, unanswered letters, things left unspoken yet somehow made manifest.

Patricia Fernández: Box (a proposition for ten years), installation view at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, 2021. Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández: Box (a proposition for ten years), installation view at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, 2021. Courtesy of the gallery
Patricia Fernández: Box (a proposition for ten years), installation view at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, 2021. Courtesy of the gallery

PATRICIA FERNÁNDEZ: HEARTBEATS

BOX (A PROPOSITION FOR TEN YEARS). PATRICIA FERNÁNDEZ WITH LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY ARCHIVE

Commonwealth and Council, 3006 W 7th St. Ste 220, Los Angeles, California

January 7th–February 6th, 2021

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