3rd 01SJ Biennial September 2010

A global festival of art on the edge

Paradoxical Sleep

Marina Zurkow
Paradoxical Sleep
Commissioned by the Andy Warhol Foundation
Multichannel video
01SJ Biennial: Superlight
San Jose Museum of Art
May 10 – August 31, 2008
San Jose Convention Center
June 4, 2008 – June 4, 2009

A convention center is a holding space waiting to become, only made real by the temporary inhabitants (IT companies, auto manufacturers, democrats) who flow through it. Non-specific and unhinged from the local, it could be almost anywhere, employing the casual and vacant vernacular of large-scale meeting places:

Concrete. Glass. Info screens. Coke machines. Signage. Potted palms. Patterned carpet.

But it’s not anywhere. You are here, in the McEnery Convention Center, in the flight path to the Norman Mineta International Airport, in downtown San Jose, in the capital of Silicon Valley, surrounded by mountains, a few miles from the sea.

One block to the west of the convention center is highway 87, and beneath it, the Guadalupe River, though it’s easy to miss unless you’re out for a stroll. Downtown San Jose has suffered historic flooding by this small scale river, which begins in the Santa Cruz Mountains, runs through the city, and continues on to Alviso, where it decants into the South Bay. An undulating concrete conduit, Guadalupe River Park is as beautiful a void—a space beneath and between—as the convention center:

Concrete. Pillars and overpasses. Flood lines. Wire mesh and stones. Water.

Paradoxical Sleep, sited on screens throughout the Convention Center, unfolds as a suite of video portraits of the building and the nearby Guadalupe River, meshing the two sites into a single tributary of flood and flow. The screens become magic mirrors, making visible what is invisible to the naked eye: memory, speculation, and projection.

The term “paradoxical sleep” refers to the sleep state during which the brain is active and dreaming occurs. In the unstable ecosystem of altered terrains, the river emerges anew, otherworldly and depopulated, flooding the places where you stand.