Sofie Ramos

decorate / defocate

digital video


“All that ‘for nothing,’ in order to repeat and mark time. But perhaps the great work of art has less importance in itself than in the ordeal it demands of a man and the opportunity it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality.” (Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”)

It’s absurd but perhaps also essential or at least unavoidable/inescapable to repetitively move/think in circles.

I exercise and examine the absurd logic of everyday life through the repetitive and automatic processes of generating/layering patterns and perpetually rearranging materials and objects, as well as through the simple repeated motions of painting and sanding. These motions mimic the everyday tedium and pleasure of the body and the mind that underlie labors of routine maintenance, which only beget more labor, which are never finished: cleaning, personal hygiene, cooking, “errands.” And of course in addition to maintaining oneself, one must work for someone else in order to make money so one can keep maintaining oneself. The distraction of repetitive action toward inconsequential or impossible ends in everyday routine suppresses unanswerable existential questions of being and purpose, nurtures the existential criminal.

The video investigates what it looks like to displace everyday repetition from its incessant cyclical condition and apply it to the accumulation of material. This method allows repetitive cycles to become visible and build up, rather than disappearing from consciousness like they might in buzz of everyday life.

In the accumulated visual index of layers and layers of repetitive actions, a push/pull narrative of the developments and deteriorations of composition unfolds. The progression reveals an underlying tension in the nearness and instability of formal and psychological oppositions. What was logical starts to seem nonsensical; pleasure accelerates into nausea; ordered systems become chaotic; new systems of logic and order emerge, new forms of pleasure; distinctions break down, limits expand. What was essential to the structure of the composition becomes excess; the question of what is essential becomes inessential. What once was a symbol breaks down into disjointed meaningless fragments. Through the insistence of repetition, new ambiguous symbols emerge.

The process is improvisational and inconclusive—no plan, nor destination, only circumstantial interruptions and temporary resolutions to the composition. By denying necessity or purpose to the formal composition by never resolving it, the weight of meaning concentrates in the variable arrangements/relationships of fragments, the progression of these spaces/objects in time, the ceaselessness of the process. The mutability of the physical form of the work parallels the formlessness of experience. The terrifying freedom of indeterminate structures is subverted by pleasure and play in the work, but there remains a tinge of anxiety. The work grapples with the question of purpose/necessity in an infinite cycle of production, accumulation, destruction and repetition. It progresses along the trajectory of absurd thinking, from awareness through and past angst and apathy, to acceptance, adaptation and autonomy, and back and around and around and around again and again.