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Rimer Cardillo
Environment and Culture: From the Amazon to the Hudson River Valley
Humanities Building Excelsior Concourse
State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY


Between the Graphic and Tectonic: Architecture, Mapping, and Topography in Rimer Cardillo’s Works
Viktoria Villanyi

The following essay is about the interaction of architecture and printmaking, and their combined role in the formation of meaning in Rimer Cardillo’s most recently finished silkscreen wall mosaic, Environment and Culture: From the Amazon to the Hudson River Valley, permanently installed on the Humanities Building along the Excelsior Concourse of the SUNY New Paltz campus.[1] The large-scale images that are distributed randomly over the mural’s geometric grid have been previously interpreted, and classified, by contemporary art critics according to their visual function as icons, specifically, as the symbols of the South American landscape, culture, and cultural heritage.[2] There has been little attention paid to how the structural arrangement, within a two dimensional plane, and within the full architectural body, alters the function and the meaning of these images. I will therefore begin this essay by outlining how Cardillo deconstructs and then layers the meaning of these icons through his integration of the mural’s architectural design in its immediate environment, the university campus. Then I locate his deconstructive method, with its similarities and divergences, in the aesthetic tradition of Joaquin Torres-Garcia, a muralist, and formative figure in the art and culture of twentieth century Uruguay.[3] In the second and main part of the paper I show how Cardillo applies structural shifts, displacement, re-sequencing to the so-called "iconic" motifs of landscapes and buildings in his prints as well as in his architectural installations, to deconstruct the symbols of fixed national, cultural or historical identity, to create from them a cognitive discourse on transnational experience. (continued)

[Click here for entire essay]