A N D N O W
A R T I S T S
A R C H I V E F U T U R E C O N T A C T
M I G U E L B E N D A Ñ A
M A R . 0 5 . 2 0 2 2 - A P R . 0 9 . 2 0 2 2
Always Unraveling: The Work of Miguel Bendaña
Eternity takes forever. The full span of its web is so often distilled into concept that its key
attribute of duration is elided. It’s such a long time that time, really, has nothing to do with it.
The impossibility of measuring duration without years, days, hours, seconds is like trying to
catch butterflies in a torn net. Whatever makes it eternal slips free.
“If You Died Today Where Would You Spend Eternity?,” asks the central work in Miguel
Bendaña’s exhibition, the question cribbed from an American Christian propaganda billboard he
saw on a couple of occasions on his way to Marfa, Texas. Freighted with centuries of moralism,
the eternity in question here is concomitant to place, two places, really: Heaven or Hell. It is a
taunt to the nonbeliever, a warning to the fair-weather faithful, a smug rhetorical question to
the self-righteous. Bendaña’s sign, like the rest of his work, is recast in knit cotton/polyester
and embellished in liquid latex. The soft capacity of the mesh to give contrasted with the fixity
of the rubber to hold and congeal sets up a binary analogous to the sign’s presumptive answers.
And yet, the mesh will run; its interaction with the latex reverberates through distortions in the
stitching; the question becomes flimsy, sagging against the weight of itself. Often ephemeral
clippings litter the surface. Here, a pamphlet entitled “Will suffering ever end?/ Would you
say… Yes? No? Maybe?” Maybe is another way to say, “I don’t know.” Unknowing is textured
with the speculation, fantasy, and ambiguity that fills the spaces bereft of faith. This ground is
not solid. The question of eternity unravels.
As a child Bendaña would try to catch the butterflies that populated his meticulous father’s lush
gardens with nets his mother would sew from synthetic chiffon. Perhaps this began his
fascination with mesh, with catching and covering. Or perhaps it signals his ambivalence for
control. He cannot determine how the webs will curl or hang, or how the latex will compel
disordered ruching further down the yard. The multiple points of crossed contact in knitting
induces the possibility of an infinite field of inflections, of infinite possibilities, of infinite signs of
ambiguities. 1 Queerness, of course, is a point of inflection by virtue of the fact that it is not
straight. It introduces the ambiguity of maybe, of both/and, of none of the above. The rainbow
darned from the limited thread Bendaña had during lockdown stretches and rolls; it tightens
and its colors tease. 2 In the studio it hung adjacent to the pamphlet on suffering, metonyms of
gay pride and gay shame. There is also gay joy. Another work states in metallic thread “Keep
Your Wallet In Your Front Pocket,” a small xeroxed warning handed to each person who enters
the popular New York City gay bar The Cock. Bunched fabric expands a haptic lexicon of less
unambiguous signs. But, in the dark, there are more questions than eternity.
The knit always unravels.
Deleuze, Gilles. The Fold, pages 15-17
Dickinson, Emily. 1099