Javier Téllez

Der Brief über die Blinden zum Gebrauch für die Sehenden

April 12 - May 17, 2008

Peter Kilchmann Gallery is pleased to announce the second solo exhibition of New York artist

Javier Téllez (born 1969 in Valencia, Venezuela). Besides a video installation we will also show

new photographs and a sculpture.

The Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those Who See can be considered as part of a continuing

series of projects which the artist develops and produces together with people who are perceived

as the outsiders of society. In this way, various works have been created with the help of

mentally disabled persons.

The artist has intensively dealt with Diderot´s classic, which gave the work its title, and in

conjunction with the Buddhist parable "The Blind Men and the Elephant". These two elements

form the basis of the artist´s latest film. In this narrative, several blind people are asked to touch

an elephant on different parts of its body. The different descriptions are generally understood

as the antithetical perceptions of reality.

In his film, Javier Téllez concentrates on the initial situation of this story and transfers it to the

present time. The disused swimming pool of a bath house in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park in

Williamsburg forms the background of the black and white shoots, in which the artist captures

the encounter of six blind New Yorkers with an elephant. The film, in which a woman and five

men approach the animal one after another and comment on how they perceive the elephant

by touching, smelling and hearing it, is shot in the documentary "cinema verité" style. Now and

then, the camera shows close-ups of the elephant’s fissured skin, while the protagonists speak

about aspects of their blindness off camera.

From the beginning of the project, the artist has dealt with the problem of whether it would be

possible to produce a film together with persons who cannot see and for whom vision has no

significance in their lives. Javier Téllez therefore assigns the voices an elementary role in the

film. When placing a major importance on the audible descriptions, he plays with the different

forms of perception and questions the pre-eminent position of the visual components within


Six large-format photographs complement the film. They are portraits of the respective

encounters between the blind persons and the elephant. Also the sculpture which is placed

opposite refers to the parable, as Javier Téllez dwells on the different descriptions of the

animal. One of them compares the skin with a warm car tyre, another one with a furry sofa

cover and a third person with the thick skin of a lizard. According to these specifications, the

artist creates an elephant which illustrates how the six blind persons perceive the animal.

The exhibited film was created as a part of the project "Six Actions of New York City" in coproduction

with Creative Time. Parallel to this exhibition, Telléz’s film will also be presented at

the Whitney Biennale 2008 in New York. Further works can be viewed in the scope of the group

exhibition "Amateurs" in the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco from

April 18th until June 18th, at the 16th Biennial of Sydney from June 18th until September 7th, as

well as at MANIFESTA 7 in Trentino, Italy, opening on July 19th. Moreover the artist participates

at the project "ISLANDS+GHETTOS" organized by the Heidelberger Kunstverein (Art Society),

which will exhibit the artwork “The Greatest Show on Earth" from June 6th until August 31st at

Mannheim Kunstverein.