Cayetano Ferrer

April 1 - May 31, 2010

In the latest installment of the Art & Music Department's Works Sited series, Cayetano Ferrer presents a display that investigates the use of symbolism and ornamentation in public design. Creating a dialogue between Central library's historically significant carpet and the playful carpet of Las Vegas casino, 'Fiesta,' Ferrer suggests the possibility of iconographic significance in the latter, exploring the roles our collective experience and memory play in the production of symbolic meaning.

In the same way the interior designers of Central Library inverted decorative elements from the library's original rotunda ceiling to the newly carpeted floor[1], Ferrer's reversal literally elevates pieces of discarded carpet from dumpster to display case. While the library's inversion was an attempt to remain consistent with the city's standards of historic preservation while still achieving a "contemporary" feel[2], Ferrer's display presents an otherwise pedestrian and expendable object as an historic relic. Similar to the reconstructed stone engravings one might find in an exhibition of archaeological artifacts, the ostensibly seamless carpet is actually an amalgamation of discrete parts - the end product of a series of geometric experiments in positioning/repositioning. Taking the various shapes and sizes of fragments he found at a Las Vegas carpet warehouse Ferrer matched the pieces together to find a configuration fitting the library's display case without breaking the pattern's symmetry. The end result reveals deviations and missing fragments that were an inevitable result of the limited materials. Ferrer fills these gaps with black wooden blocks that form a semblance of completion, but ultimately exist as significant fractures within the piece - they are rough-edged placeholders reminding us of what is missing. The blank surfaces of these blocks are a stark and tangible contrast to the bright, festive pattern and colors of 'fiesta.' In the latter, motifs and shapes intimate historic and imitative meaning, but ultimately dance as empty shells of the symbolic.

This whole process is methodically documented in a book that lies atop the carpet with a cover picturing the pattern below it. In this optical play, the book imbeds its surface (and the very surface it mirrors) with the story of its own making. The narrative is controlled and tedious but instills the piece with a visual history that attempts to establish its own symbolic import. Ferrer's excessive attention to the construction and deconstruction of this pattern is less about formal necessity and more of an attempt to underscore the material fissures present in all symmetrical forms. Through the laborious restructuring of carpet and the book's sculptural trompe l'oeil Ferrer's work poses the moment of the seam as one of both rupture and confluence.

The opening of Cayetano Ferrer's display coincides with the announcement of a new series of books published by Ferrer under LA ANONIMA. All books will be displayed alongside "FIESTA / LA ANONIMA" and have been added to the library's permanent circulating collection.

Cayetano Ferrer received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently a graduate student at USC and will obtain his MFA in 2010. Ferrer's work has been exhibited in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles; he has an upcoming show at Mayerei (Karlshruhe) in April 2010. To accompany the display, the artist has provided a bibliography of titles that have influenced his artistic practice.

[1]Central Library's carpet was custom made by Pfeiffer Partners (as HHPA, the predecessor firm Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates) when a major restoration and expansion was made to the original building (built in 1926 by Bertram Goodhue) after an arson fire in 1986. The concept was inspired by Goodhue's original designs from the extensively decorative ceiling. In the new interpretation HHPA reversed the position of the decorative motifs from ceiling to floor.

[2]Currently there are two signature carpets that help define circulation and reading zones in the open plan environment. The reading areas off the "path" are defined by a specially carpeted zone which includes an interpretive placement of "shifted" medallions also found in the original ceiling decoration. The "shift" in both the path and medallion patterns makes clear that these are contemporary interpretations of the original designs, consistent with the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation.

works cited

Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths; Selected Stories & Other Writings. New York: New Directions, 2007.

Brown, Denise Scott, Steven Izenour, and Robert Venturi. Learning from Las Vegas - Revised Edition: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. Revised ed. London: The Mit Press, 1977.

Dobbs, William T.. "Southern Nevada and the Legacy of Basic Magnesium, Inc.." Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 34 (1991): 273-303.

Friedman, Bill. Designing casinos to dominate the competition: The Friedman international standards of casino design.. Reno, Nevada: Institute For The Study Of Gambling And Commercial Gaming, 2000.

Klein, Norman, and Norman M. Klein. The Vatican to Vegas: The History of Special Effects. illustrated edition ed. New York: New Press, 2004.

Smithson, Robert. Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Titus, A. Constandina. Bombs In The Backyard, 2Nd Edition: Atomic Testing And American Politics (Nevada Studies in History and Political Science). 2 Sub ed. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2001.

Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Los Angeles: La Anonima Press, 2010.


Installation Details Installation Details Installation Details Installation Details Installation Details Installation Details Installation Details Installation Details


artist's website