Keiye Miranda



Sunken Playground

Miranda's Evocations of Desolations, Denials and Departures

If you place yourself in front of the painting for a little more time, let the black-and-white painting assume the light and the incidental color from where you stand, you may feel the coldness of the tiles. The swimming pool is empty - that is Sunken Playground's irrevocable fact. Not just empty so the pool can be cleaned and replenished but abandoned, a sorry spectacle that people have no more use of. If you let your mind slide on to the tile, you will feel dust not moisture.

The shadow should have warned you, threatening and onerous at the bottom of the pool. The harsh, dirty light is steady, the shadow like a collapsed leviathan will not move. If you look around the scene, there's nothing to see except a couple of palm trees, posts and wires, a gazebo with missing panels for a billboard. There is no sound, no wind to swoop down on the leaves and rattle them.
Sunken Playground I, 2009, oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches


It does look familiar. In fact, you have been to such a place but it wasn't as desolate as this one. Yes, few cars ever passed by the town where it was and fewer people ever visited it but those who managed to find the pool wouldn't delay. Stripped to their bare essentials, they would jump into the water, creating a splash, the air smelling of chlorine and urine.

What Keiye Miranda offers us is an evidence of how places take the brunt of our brutal disregard. Your hometown swimming pool is lucky. The swimming pools she presents and represents to us are sick, the handlebars gangrened with rust. The pools were never meant to contain only water in the first place. They were meant to be necessary diversions, oases in the city, rectangles of easy contemplation. Now, look at them.
Sunken Playground II, 2009, oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches


Complementary to the paintings that we actually see is the painting in our head whose running narrative is loss. Where are the children who scream in delight on the shallow portion of the pool? Where is the lifeguard with firm biceps and washboard abs who surveys the crowd through a pair of Ray-ban shades? Where is the woman in her polka-dot swimwear and visor, toasting merrily in her lounge chair? Where is the starlet waiting for her gun-runner boyfriend to arrive? They are all gone, swept by time. You don't know whether they are dead or simply moved cities.

More than evocations of mood, remembrances of time past, the paintings stare hard at us from the pivot of the contemporary. First, they are accusatory: they blame us for their fate. Second, they are confirmatory: we destroy anything we have built. And third, they are oracular: we too will


Sunken Playground III, 2009, oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches


suffer the fate of disappearance. We will move cities, we will die.


The antecedent exhibit to Sunken Playground, Silent Witness offers no consolation as well. Yes, the swimming pool has water, the water is blue, people are actually in the water but heir backs are turned to us, never slipping once in anonymity. They resist disclosure and discourse. The erotic is short-circuited. They are enraptured by something from the depths of the pool, we see the brilliant watery wobble of a swimmer's head, approximating the abstract. We gasp for air.

Sentimentality is not in Miranda's bag of tricks. In fact, her works involve no trickery, relying instead on clear, pictorial rendering of a scene charged with gut-wrenching resonances, narrative. Her frames are directed towards those that resist loose connections and easy symphaties: empty swimming pools, humans are
Sunken Playground IV, 2009, oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches
inscrutable as closed doors. They allow us to supply what is called the "antecedent scenario," the prelude to the story which enlarges the works' manifold possibilities.


Not that we are free to supplant the artist's intention - her works speak to us in no uncertain terms. In our flights of fancy, she curtails our freedom, dragging us back to the scene which is evidence which is the painting. Generalizing puts us in the danger of diluting the urgency of her theme and tampering with visible proof. Whatever we invent is verified only by the extent of what, and more important, how we see.

But despite the desolations, denials and invisible departures that haunt her works, Miranda doesn't attempt to disrupt our balance. Hers is an even-keel attitude toward the notion of permanent loss. The swimming pools, bereft of function and beauty, are sustained by the fact that they once served and were beautiful. Affixed in their disrepair, they echo an abandonment that is all the more profound and harrowing, these gaps.


by Carlomar Arcangel Diaoana


Sunken Playground V, 2009, oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches


Sunken Playground VI, 2009, oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches