In September, R/SF Projects is presenting Slow Clap, a solo exhibition of new photography by Colombia-born, San Francisco-based artist Marcela Pardo Ariza. Rendering the gallery a series of staged photo stills, painted accents, and set design, Pardo delves into notions of representation, collectivity, and reality, utilizing wry humor and subtle nuance to instigate curiosity.

In September, R/SF Projects is presenting Slow Clap, a solo exhibition of new photography by Colombia-born, San Francisco-based artist Marcela Pardo Ariza. Rendering the gallery a series of staged photo stills, painted accents, and set design, Pardo delves into notions of representation, collectivity, and reality, utilizing wry humor and subtle nuance to instigate curiosity.

MPA SlowClap

Pardo deploys photography, characteristically a medium of authenticity and documentation (however controversially), as a lens to deconstruct outward appearance. At close examination, her balanced compositions, sculptural lighting, and deliberate cropping divulge that there’s more than meets the eye, with a nod to the genre’s ultimate manipulability. Displacing the notion of a photograph’s “decisive moment,” Pardo’s works operate as relics of orchestrated encounters and curiously arranged conglomerations, proliferating with myriad readings. Poised as such, each fragmented body, absurdly poetic skyscape, or shadowy still life takes on an expressionist or even vaguely narrative quality, as instruments for philosophical inquiry and catalysts of affect.

MPA Luscus

Pardo’s practice has characteristically manipulated scale and context to challenge perception, producing tableaux that fuse recognizable elements with magical realism. Her process involves constructing sculptural maquettes and staged settings as scenes for the camera to capture, imbuing her prop-like objects with a captivating subjectivity and her portraits with an alluring obscurity—each its own form of rebellion. Once photographed, each setting converts to two-dimensional scale, flattened and decontextualized from its original environment. In recent years Pardo’s photography has expanded from self-contained yet boundary-breaking content to employ shape-shifting frames that physically alter boundaries, and with Slow Clap she surpasses even the frame to reach an apex of nonconformity that achieves a queering of space.

MPA Crumbling

Pardo strips symbolism deeply embedded within the structures of church and state, hinting at the disenchantment with institutions palpable in today’s political arena. As a discerning investigation of semiotics at large, Slow Clap cheekily unravels facets of communication, interpretation, and meaning-making that otherwise register subconsciously in our day-to-day, armoring and empowering her viewers through unexpected vantage points.

MPA ImTooSadToTellYou