Unexpected Distances speaks to a form’s capacity to endure constraint, or to return to its own material center after having been stretched or compressed. The broader stakes of his formal inquiry concern existential persistence to socio-political circumstances beyond one’s control. Selmani’s work responds to an organizing principle—that of linear progression—that endangers the future because it threatens people with the dispossession of their own processes of perception.
Unexpected distances, 2017 -2021
Mixed media installation
Unexpected distances is a project that creates, through multiple scenarios, situations which evoke the notion of tension. Each scenario has in common a looped video projected on the ground, where a sheet of tracing paper (which contains a graduated part) is placed. The video shows a wooden branch that resists the flow of a river creating an oscillating movement on the graduated surface of the tracing paper, like a cursor.
The installations combine drawing with video and selected objects, which builds on prior of investigations of narrative perception. It pursues a more abstract and philosophical interest in notions of elasticity. The enduring ability is a form of resistance rather than a constraint. Confronting threats of immediate dispossession, this is a principle of organization that will endanger the future.
In Selmani’s words, he “invites us to fill in the gaps, to question the way we remember and write history, beyond any linear structure.” His tripartite installation from 2017-2021, Unexpected Distances, evokes this subtle resistance to the logic of progression by reimagining the space of the line. Element one: a torn piece of tracing paper, taped to the floor with white masking tape bears a rudimentary scale measurement sketched along one of its axes. Onto this paper, Selmani projects a video of running water that is partially obstructed by a branch. The wood’s resistance to the flow of water creates an oscillating movement on the surface of the tracing paper, like the movement of a cursor. Element two: a sheet torn from a ringed sketchbook onto which a butane gas canister—typically used in houses to fuel cooking ranges—is sketched in red pencil. The sheet is affixed directly to the wall without a caption. Element three: a large, thick, blank piece of drawing paper curling in on itself, pinned to the wall with a metal rod, which leans against both the paper and wall to connect the paper to the floor.
Text By Natasha Marie Llorens
(Excerpt from the text of the exhibition catalog Waiting for Omar Gatlato, 2019)