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M I G U E L   B E N D A Ñ A

M A R . 0 5 . 2 0 2 2   -  A P R . 0 9 . 2 0 2 2





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Always Unraveling: The Work of Miguel Bendaña
Miciah Hussey

Eternity takes forever. The full span of its web is so often distilled into concept that its key attribute of duration is elided. It’s such a long time that time, really, has nothing to do with it. The impossibility of measuring duration without years, days, hours, seconds is like trying to catch butterflies in a torn net. Whatever makes it eternal slips free.

“If You Died Today Where Would You Spend Eternity?,” asks the central work in Miguel Bendaña’s exhibition, the question cribbed from an American Christian propaganda billboard he saw on a couple of occasions on his way to Marfa, Texas. Freighted with centuries of moralism, the eternity in question here is concomitant to place, two places, really: Heaven or Hell. It is a taunt to the nonbeliever, a warning to the fair-weather faithful, a smug rhetorical question to the self-righteous. Bendaña’s sign, like the rest of his work, is recast in knit cotton/polyester and embellished in liquid latex. The soft capacity of the mesh to give contrasted with the fixity of the rubber to hold and congeal sets up a binary analogous to the sign’s presumptive answers. And yet, the mesh will run; its interaction with the latex reverberates through distortions in the stitching; the question becomes flimsy, sagging against the weight of itself. Often ephemeral clippings litter the surface. Here, a pamphlet entitled “Will suffering ever end?/ Would you say… Yes? No? Maybe?” Maybe is another way to say, “I don’t know.” Unknowing is textured with the speculation, fantasy, and ambiguity that fills the spaces bereft of faith. This ground is not solid. The question of eternity unravels.

As a child Bendaña would try to catch the butterflies that populated his meticulous father’s lush gardens with nets his mother would sew from synthetic chiffon. Perhaps this began his fascination with mesh, with catching and covering. Or perhaps it signals his ambivalence for control. He cannot determine how the webs will curl or hang, or how the latex will compel disordered ruching further down the yard. The multiple points of crossed contact in knitting induces the possibility of an infinite field of inflections, of infinite possibilities, of infinite signs of ambiguities. 1 Queerness, of course, is a point of inflection by virtue of the fact that it is not straight. It introduces the ambiguity of maybe, of both/and, of none of the above. The rainbow darned from the limited thread Bendaña had during lockdown stretches and rolls; it tightens and its colors tease. 2 In the studio it hung adjacent to the pamphlet on suffering, metonyms of gay pride and gay shame. There is also gay joy. Another work states in metallic thread “Keep Your Wallet In Your Front Pocket,” a small xeroxed warning handed to each person who enters the popular New York City gay bar The Cock. Bunched fabric expands a haptic lexicon of less unambiguous signs. But, in the dark, there are more questions than eternity.

The knit always unravels.



Deleuze, Gilles. The Fold, pages 15-17
Dickinson, Emily. 1099