Selva Tucumana, 2024

Gabriel Chaile,Clay, metal with artist frame, 185 × 185 cm

Expanding from the themes of Gabriel Chaile’s exhibition Los jóvenes olvidaron sus canciones o Tierra de Fuego (The youth forgot their song or Land of Fire) at the gallery, this work is presented by the artist as part of a film that does not exist in more than hints and suggestions.

Where there would otherwise be a screen, the audience is positioned around a three-dimensional fresco fixed in time; neither a projection nor a moving image, the film is “animated” through an adobe relief flanked by two sculptures that break the fourth wall. The adobe has dried against the 10-meter-long alcove in the gallery and has become a fictional cinema. Carved within twelve consecutive panels are scores of jungle bushes and strokes outlining the robust build and short proboscis of the tapir. An ancient genus of mammals closely related to rhinos and horses, the tapir is the most primitive large mammal in the world, having existed for over 20 million years. Found across South America, Central America and Southeast Asia, the tapir plays a fundamental role in dispersing seeds through their defecation, making them indispensable to human life and nature.

Chaile chooses to focus on the native species of Argentina, which are on the verge of extinction due to the rapid disappearance of tropical forests. This backdrop, the jungle, becomes the setting of his make-believe film, in which two shape-shifting tapirs are placed on Earth – an origin story both familiar and new. Presented alongside a short synopsis of his script, this adobe relief and the proposed film muddy the boundaries between humans and animals, breaking down higher orders of nature and fostering deeper connections.