In MATRIX 175, Dulce Chacón (Mexican, born 1976) explores the frontiers of air and space, the wondrous realm of scientists, engineers, pilots, astronauts, and daredevils. Beginning with iconic and familiar media images obtained from newspapers, telecasts, and the internet, Chacón reconstructs humanity’s attempts to conquer the heavens through technological advancements in her distinctive watery ink drawings. In new work dating from 2014 to 2016, the exhibition includes four series of works on paper that total approximately 70 works.
The largest series, “Zenith” reconstructs the narrative of Felix Baumgartner’s attempt to break the world record for the longest free fall from space in 2012. The event was broadcast live on YouTube, where Chacón grabbed the source images for the forty-four drawings. Clustered in groupings across the wall, the series traces the extreme skydiver’s launch, rise, jump, and landing. “Fallen Angels” features recreations of media photographs of astronauts and capsules after they have safely landed back on earth. The curiously staged photo ops situated in peculiar, rural landing sites generate a bizarre impression of the technological marvel of space travel and the heroes it creates. A single, large drawing recreates the iconic photograph of one of the most famous suicides; “Fallen Angel” Evelyn McHale jumped from the Empire State Building to her death in 1947. “Sound Locators” (working title) comprises drawings derived from documentary photographs from almost a century ago. They depict the curious, clunky contraptions invented for military purposes to locate sound, primarily of approaching enemy aircraft during World War I and World War II, before the invention of radar. “Hindenburg” documents the tragic end of the renowned German airship catching fire and burning over New Jersey in 1937 in six sequential images derived from historic newsreel footage. The thirty-second spectacular disaster brought the airship era to an abrupt end.
With care and humor, Chacón investigates the contemporary obsession to explore the great beyond, to capture and document highly dramatic moments and potentially disastrous events. These enterprises have increasingly become real-time experiences thanks to new technologies. In beautiful drawings of altered photographs, film and video stills, Dulce Chacón shows us a strange and amazing world of innovation accomplished through human feats and failures displaying courage, sacrifice, and hubris.