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Héctor Zamora

ARTIST

HÉCTOR ZAMORA

MEXICO CITY, 1974

SCULPTURE, INSTALLATION

ARTISTIC REFERENCES

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OCTOBER 2021


El arte no es inocente. Una conversación con Héctor Zamora

BY REGINA DE CON COSSÍO

Photographs Fernanda Segura

A lo largo de su carrera, Héctor Zamora (Ciudad de México, 1974) ha trabajado con la escultura, la instalación e incluso el performance, aprovechando sus posibilidades formales para construir, intervenir, modificar o poner en tensión los espacios que estas mismas construyen o donde son expuestas. Si bien su obra aborda temas sociales y culturales, estos se hacen presente a través de las experiencias o reflexiones que denotan el encuentro con ellas. De esta manera, sus piezas no sólo son objetos con un sentido simbólico, sino irrupciones al pensamiento y el cuerpo que trastocan -de diferentes formas- lo cotidiano.

Regina De Con Cossío: Algunas de tus piezas entablan un estrecho diálogo entre el arte y la arquitectura. Estoy tentada a preguntar cuál es la diferencia, para ti, entre una y otra disciplina, pero ahora mismo creo que se trata de la temporalidad: una pieza de arte como las tuyas dura un tiempo y desaparece. En cambio, un edificio perdura. ¿Cuál es el impacto que intentas con tus piezas? ¿Lo puedes medir de alguna manera? Si una pieza es efímera, ¿cómo puedes explicar su resonancia?

Héctor Zamora: Creo que la clave esta en la experimentación y libertad. Busco un impacto total, provocar una reacción en todo el cuerpo tanto individual como social, sacudirlos y a partir de ahí todas las relaciones que se puedan general individual y colectivamente son lo que dan forma a la obra en sí. No busco medir. La resonancia es la propia obra y es atemporal

RDCC: En algunas entrevistas que diste sobre Lattice Detour, que presentaste en el MET, mencionas que uno de los propósitos es situar al espectador ante una obra que lo obligue a reflexionar sobre el espacio. Me cuesta trabajo pensar que esta provocación es inocente. Es decir, ¿hasta qué punto un artista puede encaminar las reflexiones de un espectador? ¿Cuál es la responsabilidad moral o ética del artista en sus obras?

HZ:En principio no veo diferencia desde el lado del creador, y también la temporalidad se “perrea” en ambos lados, probablemente la arquitectura efímera como pabellones, etc., sería en donde se encuentra más libertad para experimentar fuera de los parámetros de la funcionalidad y la legalidad de las reglas que regulan el espacio construidle y habitable.

Nada es inocente en una obra, todos los símbolos tienen una función dentro de esa provocación. Lo importante es que ese lenguaje simple es plural y puede tocar a un público muy amplio, ya cada quien lo descodifica de acuerdo a lo que esos símbolos le comunican. Esas reacciones son la obra, así como todas las espontaneidades que se generan.

Responsabilidad es un término muy complejo y abierto, y mucho más en el terreno de lo público. Para mí, es lograr tirarte de tu cotidianidad dándote un respiro o sacudida que te pueda llevar a volver a mirar el mundo a detalle y con eso experimentar la vida más plenamente, o cuando es necesario recordar temas que no debemos olvidar dentro de un contexto personal y colectivo. Lo demás son reglas sociales que tú sabes hasta qué punto las puedes flexibilizar para continuar con la libertar de experimentación. Estamos en tiempos muy complejos donde muchas cosas que se daban por sentadas ya no lo son, pero al mismo tiempo no podemos autocensurarnos buscando agradar a todas las posibles opiniones y formas de vida del mundo, pero hay que estar conscientes de todo.

RDCC: ¿Cuáles te parecen que sean los cambios más importantes que hayan ocurrido en el arte?

El desastre de la presión comercial es uno de los cambios más fuertes que ha tenido el arte, lo políticamente correcto y las presiones de temas llevados a la exageración hasta por lo comercial, como lo indígena, lo negro o los temas de género. Lo bueno es la pluralidad y la mayor apertura en cuanto al origen de los artistas que, por lo menos en países como México, [ser artista] ya no es mas un privilegio de las clases acomodadas, por lo menos como era cuando yo era estudiante.

RDCC: Entre otras intenciones, tus obras ponen en tela de juicio espacios políticos y sociales. En el contexto de la pandemia, ¿pasó algo con los espacios de los museos? ¿Por qué da la impresión de que los museos no cambiaron significativamente su devenir? Salvo la posibilidad de “visitar” algunas exposiciones de manera virtual, parece que lo más interesante del arte pasó en otros espacios…

Los museos son espacios controlados, todo y nada es posible. Son cubos blancos, paredes y espacio definidos. La interacción conlleva entrar en ellos, cruzar la puerta y eso implica que quien entra es porque quiere y/o puede pagar; tiene que haber una predisposición y eso cancela la posibilidad de lo plural. ¡Y son espacios públicos! La diferencia es que afuera no hay que cruzar esa frontera y las variables y condiciones de trabajo son infinitas

RDCC:Durante la pandemia estuvimos obligados a permanecer en casa. Los espacios públicos fueron despojados de sus actividades habituales. Con el regreso a las calles en México se ha dado un fenómeno muy interesante: por un lado, algunos movimientos sociopolíticos que tenían años de estarse gestando manifestaron sus intenciones de apropiarse de los espacios públicos (como el movimiento feminista en Ciudad de México). Actualmente hubo una polémica alrededor del monumento a Colón en Reforma. ¿Cuál es tu opinión respecto de los monumentos, la administración pública y el papel de los artistas? Muchas veces los artistas esperan procedimientos institucionales para intervenir los espacios públicos. ¿Por qué no hacerlo a lo Banksy, por ejemplo?

HZ:Mi trabajo siempre ha reflexionado y hasta en algunos momentos ha estado claramente opuesto al concepto de monumento. Para mí, Bansky hace monumentos al capitalismo

HZ: Son muchos nombres…

RDCC: Tengo mucha curiosidad en preguntarte acerca de los fenómenos derivados de las criptomonedas en el mundo del arte. Siendo un artista cuyos intereses parecen estar más cerca de lo físico y lo espacial, ¿qué piensas de estos fenómenos del mercado del arte y de la relación entre el espectador y el artista que se dan a partir de los NTF’s?

HZ: Creo en lo físico y es claro en mi obra. Tal vez es generacional y no voy a renunciar a ello.

Othiana Roffiel

ARTIST

Othiana Roffiel

MEXICO CITY, 1990

PAINTING, SCULPTURE

ARTISTIC REFERENCES:

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FEBRERO 2021

Navigating-the-in-between
Interview with Othiana Roffiel

BY REGINA DE CON COSSÍO
Photographs Courtesy of the Artist

If you look at the works of Othiana Roffiel from afar, you may get the wrong impression. Her artistic pieces seem intuitive and sensory. Emotional, perhaps. However, behind them there are also intellectual processes and deep investigations. Some of them may border on semiotics, that science projected by Charles Sanders Peirce in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.

 

Othiana Roffiel plays with the titles of her works to add layers of meaning. Her paintings are playful and hazardous, but they are also like memory time machines. Among the less obvious aspects of her work is feminism, which she adopts naturally: away from pamphlets or manifestos. Some specialized media have identified her as one of the most striking figures of her generation. In it, formal risk is not a statement to describe her work but an inescapable slogan.

 

Like few artists, Othiana Roffiel combines her aesthetic interests with writing. In this way, she links processes of the language of letters with that of images. The result is remarkable: the meanings that emerge from her pieces point in different directions. Sometimes complementary; many others, contradictory.

Othiana Roffiel (Mexico City, 1990) unveiled in 2019 The Persistent Insistence of Play at Casa Equis in Mexico City, curated by Leslie Moody Castro. Her work has been part of diverse group shows in museums, galleries and alternative spaces in both Mexico and the United States. In July this year she will have a solo show with Galería Karen Huber.

Regina De Con Cossío: Some artists work with intuitive and emotional processes. Many others do so from a reasoned and even intellectual perspective. I have the impression that in your case there is a fusion of both. You have a solid discourse around your work but you also leave room for emotions to play an important role when producing pieces of art. How does this relationship between the rational and the intuitive happen in your work?

Othiana Roffiel: It is a to and fro; and it is precisely this swaying movement which generates layers of meaning in my works. Some layers—both material and conceptual—are more intuitive and others more intellectual. Still, they are not mutually exclusive, but rather operate in a continuum; they affect and constantly reconfigure each other. Sometimes it is even hard to figure out which is at work at a given moment. 

Last May, because of the current pandemic, I moved my studio to the Mexican countryside—a different context from my usual one in Mexico City. When I first arrived at Nepantla—the birthplace of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 17th century writer and poet who is now considered a feminist icon—I was inevitably enthralled by the region’s flora and immediately felt the urge to paint the cacti that surrounded me. This drive was purely intuitive, it stemmed from a feeling, from a need, and that was something difficult to rationalize. Yet, once I started to actually work on these paintings a more analytical sort of thinking came into play and discursive layers started to emerge. 

RDCC: In The Persistent Insistence of Play there is a vestige of childhood, is that correct? The works have great aesthetic power. But the playful rhythm seems to be connected with the games that many of us play in our childhood at home or at school for fun. This relationship between your present SELF and your past SELF can be seen as time travel. A search for memory. How do you work with these concepts (time and memory) in your artistic production?

OR: One of the things that most fascinates me in painting is change and change is inevitably tied to time. Earlier I was speaking about how meaning is constructed, but maybe a better word is “accumulated”—meaning in a painting is accumulated through time; through the time invested in the manipulation of the material, in the struggle to find forms which will remain, and in navigating (though mostly wrestling) from layer to layer. You think a work is finished, but then turn it around (literally and metaphorically) and realize it is asking for something else. 

 

This is what happened with the pieces in The Persistent Insistence of Play, where the transformation didn’t only take place in the many layers that constitute each canvas, but these mistakenly “finished” paintings ended up absorbing fragments (the cutouts) from other works, which later lead to the creation of 3D elements that became parts of the pieces themselves. The temporality of these paintings multiplied. After being made and even exhibited, artworks continue to change; how they are perceived is informed by the spaces they occupy and the reading of them evolves over time. 

 

Now, about memory… Our memory is a repertoire of… well, everything! The spaces, hues, surfaces, shapes, compositions and relationships I come across daily inevitably linger in my thoughts and residues of these appear in my paintings. Sometimes I consciously take from this pool of information, but others I am not aware of it until it happens. I might mix certain colors intuitively and once the painting is finished realize that they are the colors of the building in front of my studio!

 

More so, I approach painting via abstraction and memory plays a crucial role in the processes that come with this specific breed of painterly language. When you are thinking and working through abstraction you are constantly searching for things (forms, colors, situations) without really knowing what they look like until you encounter them. An artist, I believe Amy Sillman, compares this process to rummaging for something in a dark room, except you don’t know what you are hunting for. You might not be able to see, but your other senses are running. How you take in what you touch, hear, smell (and maybe even taste) in that obscure space is being informed by recollection. You sort through a pile of diverse objects and feel something, let’s say, something soft, yet even though it’s not recognizable, you inevitably associate it with elements you’ve interacted with in the past. But for some reason you decide that even though it feels nice and fluffy, that isn’t what you are seeking for and you continue to move across the dark room. Then, you all of a sudden slip with an object, fall on your buttocks and after collecting yourself, grab the item responsible for the debacle and realize it’s exactly what you had been trying to find for the past five hours (or five months). How do you know? You just do. Perhaps it’s the intuition we were talking about earlier? You mentioned childhood, isn’t this exactly how kids move through the world? 

 

RDCC: The dedication you have for writing arts texts in different media or for various exhibitions is remarkable. What is the relationship that you find in your work process between art and writing?

I have always felt a strong affinity with the written word, yet writing has played a different role in my practice at distinct moments—though I guess it has always been a way of making sense. 

 

What drove me to art writing back in 2014 was a desire to understand my professional context (the local Mexico City contemporary art scene, as well as the international), but also a keen sense of curiosity for the diverse artistic practices that surrounded me that were apparently “different” from my own—painting. I felt that in order to comprehend these things I needed to write about them. I ended up composing reviews, articles and interviews for contemporary art platforms such as ARTPULSE (USA) and Artishock (Chile) on artists like Jill Magid, Fritzia Irízar, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Mario Garcia Torres, Allora & Calzadilla, Abraham Cruzvillegas, among others. Yet It wasn’t until 2018 that I finally dared to write about painting—I conceived the curatorial text for an edgy Ana Segovia one-work show, which led to further writings on the work of other painter friends. 

 

With that said, today writing serves me other purposes and manifests itself differently than it did in the past. Though I’ve always known that these two aspects of my practice (painting and writing) complement each other, I had the sensation that they occupied separate drawers. Before I wrote to understand the enormity of the contemporary art world, now I write to probe on my own artistic processes and undertakings in order to grasp how these relate to my surroundings—yes, to the art world, but also to my mundane quotidian environment. I like to think there is more congruence between my writing and my painting now. You asked me about intuition and about the rational, writing plays a crucial role in this to and fro, it helps me organize my thoughts about what is going on in the work. For me meaning is made in the conjunction of what takes place in the studio and what on a blank page. What I write about these days strongly corresponds with what is happening with my own processes. For example, ESPAC (a Mexico City based non-profit organization, born out of a private collection, which for the past five years has supported Mexico’s artistic community) recently invited me to draught a text for a book that they will publish later this year: ABCDESPAC. My collaboration aligns with my own work not only because of the subject matter—painting—, but also because of the form the contribution takes. In it I play with different genres: the text draws from the epistolary ( it’s structured as a letter), it slightly flirts with autofiction and it also has academic touches. I feel this mirrors what happens in my paintings when I come and go between languages (abstraction and figuration) or between formats (2D and 3D). 

RDCC: In this same sense, I find the way you title some of your pieces really original. In your case the titles of the works are not accidental. Is there a particular process when you name them?

OR: In the case of my more abstract works, the titles are a way of opening the paintings to the lifeworld, a way of pointing to “something else.” They are random phrases like “Hanging my Shit Out to Dry: A Start” or “Over Easy,” for example, that mostly come from whatever it is I am reading at the time. I like to be playful. I arbitrarily pair one of these phrases—I have a list—with a painting to see if they work together. It is a very intuitive process, similar to what happens with the cutouts I mentioned earlier. Yet, in my most recent series Through the Cactus, the titles function somewhat differently as they reference the thing itself—the titles of the pieces include the scientific or common name of the type of cactus portrayed.

RDCC: What are the artists that you find as references or inspiration? What processes or elements do you have in common with them?

OR: In her book The Love of Painting: Genealogy of a Success Medium (2018), Isabelle Graw (cofounder of the acclaimed journal Texte zur Kunst) uses the phrase: “no painting without conversation.” I previously spoke about the different ways in which my work comes about, well, another is most definitely through conversations––of course with artists, but also with other figures in the art word, which I might or might not know personally and may be living or dead. With each, I have a completely different sort of exchange and they enrich my practice in distinct ways. 

Amy Sillman, which I mentioned before, taught me how to speak about painting in a manner that is simultaneously critical and playful. It’s thanks to her that I can now put into words processes and ideas––specifically about abstraction. Elizabeth Murray showed me that it’s ok to have weird, whacky, lumpy shapes and that for some of us, painting is about making conflicting things coexist. Last year, when I moved to the countryside because of the pandemic, Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keefe motivated me to engage with the landscape; they helped me discover how the forms and colors I encounter relate to my own pictorial language and how place inevitably permeates the picture frame. Rachel Harrison revealed how painterly signs operate beyond the canvas. Philip Guston that “bad painting” can actually be the best kind of painting; he also pushed me to embrace my work’s aptness to change. Laura Owens reaffirmed this by showing me that it’s all right to have a multifarious and disparate body of work that cruises between abstraction and figuration. She also incited me to truly grasp that painting always functions in relation to space. Sarah Lucas allured me with her appealingly discomfiting anthropomorphic figures and shed light on the possibilities of our everyday objects. Maria Lassnig’s awkward characters reminded me that the body is always present––it’s inescapable. Charline von Heyl allowed me to see how different sorts of painterly gestures can both couple and push against each other in a picture plane. And of course, all of the artists I just named taught me something different about one of the most fascinating aspects of painting: color. 

Yet, I am incredibly grateful to also learn from my talented peers: those who pointed me to the artists I just mentioned; who I send pictures of paintings in embarrassing stages; who I constantly bounce ideas with; who see things in my work that I hadn’t before; who I call in a fit when I’ve ruined a painting. They, just like the artists I touched upon, teach me so much through their own work. 

RDCC: In modern times we often hear the relationship between the visual arts and other arts (cinema, theater, etc.) or with disciplines such as science. From your point of view, how can contemporary art be defined?

OR:Art is a becoming. It’s a language that through diverse material and discursive processes of investigation establishes a situation––whether it is via the creation of an object or an experience––in which the spectator is confronted with their body, thoughts and social context. All sorts of disciplines permeate these investigations. Some artists work in the intersection of diverse fields in more overt ways, while for others, like me, this happens more organically.  

I mentioned how I turn to literature when it comes to some of my titles. Also, for the past months I have been studying how the forms and colors (natural and manmade) in my surroundings relate to my pictorial vocabulary. Yet, the information I collect from my lifeworld doesn’t only come into the work in terms of the figures in the paintings, but has also permeated it in other ways: found objects such as rocks and bricks have infiltrated the space of painting, opening exciting possibilities in terms of how these elements coexist with the painted canvases in the exhibition space. When you establish such a close relationship to your environment you inevitably engage with the disciplines which study the elements you are interested in––botany (the cacti I portray), geology (the rocks I collect) or architecture (the bricks I use for my assemblages, but I have also recently been studying the hues of the local facades). Again, another to and fro takes place, this time between the studio and exhibition space, the natural environment, and our domestic habitations, which leads me to make my way through diverse disciplines. Art sets the context for us to break the hierarchies between practices, giving rise to new ways of knowing and approaching our world, and thus revealing links between our shared spaces. 

Fernanda Barreto

ARTIST

Fernanda Barreto

SÃO PAULO, 1988

SCULPTURE, INSTALLATION, PERFORMANCE

ARTISTIC REFERENCES:

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FEBRUARY 2019

No room for questions
Interview with Fernanda Barreto

BY REGINA DE CON COSSÍO
Photographs Courtesy of the Artist

Brazilian sculptor and installation artist Fernanda Barreto constructs an exhibit as a reflection to president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro’s last-minute pullout from the World Economic Forum. Bolsonaro’s excuse was “there would be no time for questions,” which gave birth to Barreto´s flame to start a conversation regarding the important meeting that never took place.

Barreto’s work heavily focuses on language and the practice of communication, collective enunciation and social structures making use of distinct media. Thus, this strange event of miscommunication attracted the artist to stage the meaning of this non-existent oral communication and the presence of a very big elephant in the room.

The press conference would have taken place alongside Bolsonaro’s ministers and was canceled due to a surgery the president was recently recovering from. However, the manner in which the media was questioning his accomplishments and promises gave way for the president to excuse himself from even more uncomfortable questions.

I sat down with Fernanda Barreto to ask her about her motivation and the meaning behind the exhibition inspired by Bolsonaro’s actions.

Regina: What was your main trigger for this piece of art and, for you, which    are the places where communication can happen?

FB: We have transformed oral and written language as communication in this society. But there so many other things that that act as communication like the human body. The later medium is so powerful because it is always enunciating more than actual verbalization. There are so many limitations that oral language unfortunately box us like for example, translations never end up as the original message. There is so much room for interpretation that the original meaning gets lost.

What was shown to the world throughout news outlets was the image of this empty table with the names on plaques of the absent participants of the forum. The empty water glasses and the empty chairs create a great impact that felt as a comparison as the climax that never happened, but it should have. Communication also happens through the body, not just oral and written language, which is why the body is such an important vehicle.

Regina: The installation itself is not a contestation, is it? But rather…

FB: I’d like to think that this installation piece can come off as a response, but it is more of a reflection, isn’t it? I feel it is a resistance. The empty spaces where you project yourself can be coded as locations where actions can happen. However, there is a jarring feeling that makes the body stop and realize that the action will definitely not happen. But if you’d like to think of it as a response, then that is what art does.

Regina: When you first knew of the Bolsonaro’s actions and that the interview never took place, did it cause an abnormality in you that might trigger an alert in terms of putting attention to when a political discourse does not happen, when it clearly was his duty to do so?

FB: I realize that there is a phenomenon happening very similar to that of the United States where there is no political action and so much lack of preparation and understanding. This is finally being replaced by a rant of 140 characters on Twitter. The later circulates on a massive scale. Actually, yesterday was the closure of the carnival of Brazil and Bolsonaro uploaded a video with the question asking what a bumble shower was. These are the actual preoccupations and questions the highest position in Brazilian government asks the public through the official account on Twitter. The world is dying and the republic is fading. The retweets and the memes caused by this one are a façade for the real questions that are left unanswered, it is a trap. There are so many decisions being made without transparency that cause criticism and questions. The media is there for the bomb to explode and be unaffected by the changes.

Regina: Finally, would you agree that in the closure of spaces where questions to authority need to be made is the same as shutting down and avoiding a certain responsibility?

FB: Absolutely. The message he sent was “I do not want to be questioned.” This is the answer of a dictator, in which this person actively makes the decision of how they want to be portrayed as. The dictator chooses the narrative as opposed to the actual facts. If there is space for questions there is space for various different interpretations. And this philosophy can be applied to every aspect of life, right? If there is no place for questions there is no place for anything.

 

 

 

Luis Hampshire

ARTIST

Luis Hampshire

OAXACA DE JUÁREZ, 1975

PAINTING, SCULPTURE

ARTISTIC REFERENCES:

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JUNE 2020

Is it possible to edit the future ?
Interview with Luis Hampshire

BY REGINA DE CON COSSÍO
Photographs Courtesy of the Artist

Artist, Independent Curator, and Art Promoter Luis Hampshire uses art to find his place in the world, to inhabit and understand it. Art as a medium permits him to separate from his own self and discover the otherness.

 

Hampshire studied arts at the Claustro de Sor Juana (USCJ) in Mexico City, he co-founded the art space Ediciones Plan B with Jessica Wzony. In addition to this, as an independent curator he has set up exhibitions nationally and internationally. Between 2011 and 2013 he directed the “Taller de Artes Plasticas Rufino Tamayo” (Rufino Tamayo Plastic Arts Workshop), in Oaxaca. Moreover, he was the director of MUPO (Museum of the Oaxaca Painters) . 

His creative process dates back to his youth. The Imaginarium he lived in as a child in a small town was widened through the underground world of skateboarding, full of album covers and illustrations. This allowed him to draw contrast between his local world and other worlds. The discovery of this contrast set in motion his creative process. He is inspired by what can be found in the daily and ordinary,  his passion for plants and  architecture, design and crafts, high-culture, low-culture, crafts, food, literature and language, games, arts and of course artists. These influences are present in the art pieces he creates. 

He views painting, his signature medium to create art, as a “world-platform”. It transcends beyond the technical and into a space to interact with meanings, contrasts and different worlds. Recurring elements in his works are the body and representations of it’s fragments, humor, sex and  the derisory. Almost as an obsession coming back and forth we see the cutout and paste. In his work color is used as a mechanism to construct spatiality and narratives. Painting transforms into writing and exploring history traces. 

He has the sensibility of an artist and the experience of running an Institution. This positions him in an interesting spot to have an opinion on the current challenges facing the art world.

Regina De Con Cossío: From your perspective, what is the role an artist should play in times of uncertainty?

Luis Hampshire: An advanced one, art has always been and is in the future possible. In these moments of closure not only health, but political, social and economic, art is important to dissent, diverge and generate a broad present that is consolidated in the future. But always from the possible, the democratic, the radical and the beautiful.

RDCC: Historically, the figure of the artist has been understood as an uncomprehended genius by society. However, in more recent times, art has been used as a manifestation of social participation. Should the artist take an active place in the social changes or is his duty to represent what is before his eyes? 

LH: Making art is a political act in itself. Politics is the possibility of having a voice in the public space and art has it when it opens up to say the unspeakable. But going beyond the aesthetic and assuming an active role in the definition and expansion of identity, culture, democracy and politics in the now. Otherwise it is just decoration or a luxury souvenir.

RDCC: If artworks are usually seen in galleries, museums and public spaces, from your perspective, how will the dynamic change after the pandemic?

LH: The system of distribution and promotion of art has changed radically from the post-avant-garde to our days, and even more so with the expansion of the phenomenon by digital media and the internet. Now more than ever it is necessary to rethink the appropriate means and mechanisms for each medium, language and open up to everything. Nothing is fixed but in flow.

RDCC: Some of your work considers the world of screens as a space where new proposals can be made. Do you think that screens, cell phones, etc., are going to take an even more leading role to show and / or produce art? Will we see experimental and risky things on our cell phones?

LH: Yes and no. An important part of doing and living in art, as well as our body, has to do with the physical, the presence, the erotic of the encounter. The dialectic of the other that affects and alters me. In this way the presence of matter, the problem of the exhibition is only reconsidered through various mechanisms.

 Not closing but opening is what is today. The radical is the multiple.

RDCC:If art ceases to show in museums and galleries and turns around screens. What will the role of the curator be? What will happen to the art fairs?

LH: I think the roles of the art world expand and find different paths. Museums, galleries, fairs and alternative spaces are developing alongside physical space in digital space. The job will be to put the correct messages on the correct media. Or deny them and rethink them in other formats. All this 2020 shows us that nothing closes but reinvents itself as a mechanism for survival or even resistance.

Hampshire’s work is currently exhibited at Karen Huber Gallery. I had the opportunity to visit and experience an outstanding trademark of his work. The whole setup gives the impression of walking through a stage’s scenography, as if a play is taking place. Yet by closer examination of each art piece, one discovers an autonomous scene on it’s own. The artist achieves this through the use of the collage technique and the marriage between different materials. Cuts and pastes, edited passages, overlapping worlds, layers of history, meanings reshaped. That’s what Hampshire’s work is about. Isn’t it also what we seem to be doing everyday, nowadays?

In a time of so much uncertainty due to the different crises we are experiencing (health, economic, social, etc.), what is the role of art in these discussions? Do you have something to propose to get closer to what we call reality? The question comes because you mention that in your work you use tools that put reality in tension.

I believe that in any crisis art can function as a prism through which we can observe reality in another way, as an image, with a more objective vision, or with other nuances. We can see things in more detail or perspective, as if art were a lens. I am not sure that the problem will be solved, but it can help to separate our consciousness from the present, to direct our gaze and attention towards something that we had overlooked, which could become a new route towards the exit of that crisis.

How has your perception changed from the last 12 months in which we have suffered a series of technological changes, communication and the way we understand social networks? Have your artistic practices been modified? Are the processes the same?

In the last year I have been working inside the studio, before I spent much more time in the derived part of the trip, the walk and the exploration in outdoor spaces. My practice has turned towards the formal reflection of the materials that I use. I try to keep the autobiographical element in the work, however there comes a time when the production in the same works takes me to places that escape my will, they are more intuitive in the sense that I do not have a preconceived image of what the final work, but each day they evolve by themselves. By spending
more time in the studio, I have been able to review ideas and works that I had on hiatus, waiting between papers. Now, by taking them up again, they take on a new meaning by merging with the ideas I am playing with in the present.

Do you notice any difference in the performative capacities of art in current times?

I see the performative part of the work in its socialization. I am struck by the ways in which artists now show or present a work, either through the internet or in a physical space. I think that’s where the performative is to be found. Today, with so many digital tools and communication channels available, works are susceptible to new mutations. A sculpture can be an object that the artist uses in a video, through which it relates an event, which ends up becoming a prophecy or an Instagram story. And what is the work, the sculpture, the video on Instagram or the whole process?

The concept of narrative is associated with literature, cinema, comics … It is a concept in which a story is told through a sequence of images or words. However, in your piece there also seems to be a story behind that unfolds in a circular or spiral way, how is it that a circular piece of art can be turned into a narrative platform? Is there a beginning, an end, a middle point? How do you approach this concept when making the artwork?

For me, a circular work is one that allows a possibility, that does not take something for granted but rather asks or even doubts what it is saying. I have always been interested in those elements that promote this kind of transition, such as the arrow or the hole. The arrow can be seen as an isolated object, and even then, even if they are not present, it always suggests a source and a destination. The hole or hole works in a similar way to the arrow, it is a space of transition and possibility, it is a threshold that separates the exterior and the interior, therefore it contains 2 moments in itself, with which a space-temporal narrative is generated.

Marek Wolfryd

ARTIST

Marek Wolfryd

MEXICO CITY, 1989

PAINTING, INSTALLATION, SCULPTURE

ARTISTIC REFERENCES:

Elaine Sturtevant, Andrea Fraser

OCTOBER 2021

¿A quién pertenece el arte? sobre la originalidad y la autoría
Entrevista con Marek Wolfryd

Por: REGINA DE CON COSSÍO
Fotos: Fernanda Segura

Sybariscollection1

El trabajo del artista Marek Wolfryd (Ciudad de México, 1989) aborda desde un posicionamiento crítico las bases canónicas sobre las que se han sostenido la práctica artística y el arte mismo, a partir de valores como la autoría, la originalidad y la propiedad intelectual. En esta conversación profundiza sobre los efectos que han tenido estas nociones en las estructuras culturales y los imaginarios sociales, así como en las dinámicas económicas. Con su obra, que juega con el humor y lo absurdo, Wolfryd confronta nuestra mirada como espectadores y nos lleva a un lugar de indeterminación interpretativa, tal como parecen desearlo los objetos e imágenes del arte.

Regina De Con Cossío: En tus obras artísticas hay una declaración de principios sobre el concepto de apropiación, originalidad, copia, etc. ¿Cuál es tu posición respecto de la autoría en el arte?

Marek Wolfryd: Estoy interesado en generar una conversación respecto a las ideas de la autoría y autenticidad. Pienso que es un concepto que sigue muy presente en el proceso de la creación y lectura de las obras de arte a pesar que esté se lleve cuestionando más de 40 años por diversas corrientes que son legado de las vanguardias artísticas. Últimamente me he interesado en explorar estás cuestiones sobre todo desde perspectivas y configuraciones distintas al pensamiento occidental. Paradójicamente las nociones en cuanto a la propiedad intelectual y la originalidad occidentales son relativamente modernas y las podemos asociar con las intenciones creativas (sobre todo literarias) del siglo XVIII. Las cuales comienzan a surgir después del asentamiento de las leyes de copyright, patentes, y propiedad intelectual germinadas a partir de la invención de la imprenta. Esto me ha llevado analizar el hecho de que la invención de la originalidad está intrínsecamente relacionada con la aparición de la propiedad privada desde la mirada comercial y corporativa tal y como la conocemos hoy en día. Es precisamente en ese sentido que me parece un tema relevante para el contexto actual. Incluso después de la publicación y divulgación de enormes cantidades de teoría y retorica sobre el tema. Incluso, existen bastantes ideas alrededor de la problematización de la autoría cómo por ejemplo el bricoleur, la intertextualidad, la criptomnesia, el hypertexto y la transtextualidad por mencionar algunas. Digamos que La muerte del autor, ocurrió en 1967 pero cada cierto tiempo revive. La verdad es que al final del día y a pesar de la idea generalizada de que le debemos todo a únicas y grandes mentes creadoras las estructuras culturales de las sociedades contemporáneas están cimentadas en miles de millones de ideas anónimas, colectivas y colaborativas.

RDCC: Estamos hablando de una posición que rompe con una tradición milenaria donde el artista es el centro del arte. ¿Dónde se puede posicionar al artista? ¿Cómo referir sus obras en una exposición de arte? ¿Debería desaparecer su nombre? Y si es así, ¿cómo se afectaría la venta de arte?

MW:Antes que nada, quizá sea necesario aclarar que cuando hablamos de lxs artistas no hay un común denominador y en realidad existen diversos tipos de serlo. En mi propio proceso creativo y en algunos de los proyectos que he realizado siento que mi figura como creador corresponde a un trabajo de cierta forma colaborativo y en ese sentido yo me siento más cercano a una especie de eslabón dentro de la cadena de producción. Juan Pablo Ramos en una visita de estudio comentó que el me veía como artista maquilador (en el buen sentido del término), por proponer una clasificación. Sin embargo, no creo que este sea el caso para todos los artistas ni para todas las producciones. Existen particularidades únicas para diferentes contextos y circunstancias. Como mencione anteriormente el artista como el centro del arte no es una tradición milenaria, en realidad es muy reciente y creo que eso es importante que se tome en cuenta por artistas que se encuentran produciendo el día de hoy. Me parece puntual que se desmitifique el mito del genio creador. Teniendo esto en mente no considero que sea una necesidad que desaparezca el nombre de los artistas de sus obras, creo que el hecho relacionar a un autor con una pieza también es un proceso de clasificación y conocimiento y al mismo tiempo una dirección de sentido. Sí, podrían existir más grupos de arte anónimos y colaborativos (pienso en ejemplos como The Bruce High Quality Fountation, Artists Anonymous o el Comité Invisible, etc.) pero tampoco me interesa demonizar la autoría ni creo que sea prescindible. Más bien considero relevante entender cómo trabajan las estrategias de producción contemporáneas y cómo funciona el arte como un proceso colaborativo en distintos niveles y en distintos modelos. Teniendo eso en mente podemos empezar a definir otras directrices y otros formatos si es que es realmente lo que buscamos y/o necesitamos. Igualmente, asimilar estos procesos no tendría por qué necesariamente afectar la venta de arte y en muchos casos ya se trabaja partir de otro tipo de distribución de los ingresos. Creo que el coleccionismo, junto a otro tipo de soportes, es fundamental para que la producción artística funcione de manera orgánica, el mercado hasta cierto punto es necesario y me parece que México es un gran ejemplo de un mercado de arte saludable para el arte mismo. Lo más ético sería qué los artistas pagarán lo justo a quiénes les prestan servicios de producción de sus obras y creo que en ese sentido es indispensable que se legislen leyes alrededor de los distintos niveles de trabajo cultural que rodean la producción artística. Al final recordemos que los coleccionismos y los mecenazgos ya existían de maneras muy similares a como las conocemos ahora, antes de la invención de la autoría contemporánea. Me parece que en todo caso lo que podría cambiar es la especulación desmedida de obras de arte y los incrementos exponenciales de valor respecto a la oferta y demanda por otro tipo de coleccionismo más especializado, amable y cercano al arte, algo definitivamente menos capitalista y visceral.

RDCC: En tu trabajo el concepto de modernidad está presente constantemente. En una entrevista mencionas que uno de tus edificios favoritos es el Multifamiliar Miguel Alemán. El proyecto de modernidad en México se ha derrumbado. Estamos en un momento coyuntural especialmente complejo. ¿Cuál es el papel que el artista toma respecto de estos temas? ¿Crees que el artista debe comprometerse socialmente con su entorno? ¿Cuál sería el propósito de esto?

MW:Sí, creo que de pronto es un poco difícil, al menos para mí, librarme del concepto de la modernidad latinoamericana. Pienso que específicamente en la producción artística que es crítica de su contexto, y particularmente producida desde América Latina es complejo no entender el fenómeno de la modernidad como un parteaguas de varios (o de la mayoría) de los procesos políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales que nos definen como productores desde esta región. Sobre todo, porque es un proyecto fallido. Sí, definitivamente el multifamiliar Miguel Alemán es uno de mis edificios favoritos de la ciudad, aunque en la entrevista que mencionas estaba pensando en otro tipo de producciones y en otro tipo de definiciones. Me interesaba mucho el multifamiliar por las relaciones arquitectónicas que tiene a partir del movimiento funcionalista y de cómo se pensaba en un sitio que complementará todos los aspectos de la vida en un espacio doméstico. En muchas de este tipo de construcciones se integraban recintos para actividades culturales como parte de un proyecto que ofreciera los más altos estándares de salud universal, la cultura se consideraba tan esencial como el deporte o la salud. Esta designación es algo que se ha perdido con otros procesos de la arquitectura y el urbanismo posmodernos. Así, creo que más allá de pensar el papel del artista o del mencionado compromiso social del artista como agente único creo que debemos comenzar a recuperar una relación simbiótica entre vida y cultura que se considere tan importante como aspectos de la existencia. Creo que este es el compromiso social que los artistas deben de tener con su entorno.

RDCC: En algunas entrevistas has diferenciado conceptos como copia, apropiación y cita. Tu trabajo profundiza en la apropiación. Si tuvieras que marcar límites y directrices, ¿cuáles crees que serían las “instrucciones” para apropiarse de una obra de arte?

MW:Me interesa la apropiación porque a diferencia de la copia existe una intencionalidad del gesto que propone retomar y redistribuir un concepto. La cita es más una acción que ofrece una ventana a un conocimiento u otorga una directriz sobre la fuente de una idea. Es un hecho estático en ese sentido. La apropiación es circulación y movimiento. Creo que la estrategia principal para lograr estos es la resignificación desde un contexto distinto a su creación original. Creo que la apropiación consiste en ver y entender “lo otro” que también existe y eso es fundamental. Si no podemos ver a las imágenes, a las ideas y a los conceptos como entidades abiertas y transformativas no podemos entender lo que sería apropiarse de una obra de arte y re-representar sus valores con el fin de generar nuevos universos.

RDCC:En este sentido, ¿cuál es la aportación que hace una obra de arte que se apropia de otra? ¿Cuál es su valor cultural? ¿Cómo se puede medir su valor económico?

MW: Es difícil definir la aportación de una obra de arte y su valor cultural en general. Creo que la apropiación no funciona de una manera distinta a como funcionarían otras estrategias creativas en cualquier otro medio o disciplina. Creo que estas aportaciones y valores tienden a ser subjetivas y en teoría son ciertos tipos de especialistas quiénes determinan ese valor o dicha aportación. Personalmente creo que el valor de una u otra obra de arte se encuentra en las conexiones de conocimiento que pueda ejercer a partir de su lectura. Creo que si tuviera que definir sobre los valores de ciertos tipos de arte tomaría como prioridad aquellos que hicieran hincapié en generar estos puentes. Respecto al valor económico; hablando específicamente de las artes visuales pienso que hasta que no se establezca otro sistema de valoración y mercantilización que no sea el existente no podremos hablar de dar otro valor económico a las obras, apropiaciones o no apropiaciones. Funcionan de la misma forma que el resto del trabajo. En una plática hace un par de años con otros artistas, galeristas y gestores de espacios culturales comentaba que sería algo parecido a un sueño utópico de mi parte qué el arte contemporáneo se pudiera comercializar en una escala masiva. Es decir qué los precios se redujeran y que los coleccionistas se multiplicarán exponencialmente. Recuerdo que hice un comentario sobre el día en que las obras de arte contemporáneo se puedan vender a la par de otro tipo de mercancías como por ejemplo artículos textiles, decoración del hogar o insumos pero que mantuvieran está esencia pedagógica, sensible y simbólica. Esto implicaría que muchos artistas que no pueden acceder al mercado formen parte de él y que muchos coleccionistas sin grandes cantidades a la mano también puedan acceder. Entonces podríamos hablar de otra democratización del arte en muchos más sentidos de los que se habla hoy en día.

RDCC: Has ofrecido algunos talleres. ¿Cómo se relaciona tu actividad artística con la docencia? ¿Puede un artista “transmitir” metodologías o procesos de trabajo? Si no es así, ¿cuál es la función del artista como docente?

MW:La verdad es que he ofrecido muy pocos talleres relacionados a mi práctica. Si es algo que me interesa pero que no he podido explorar por diferentes circunstancias. La figura del artista como docente es interesante, definiendo también que tipo de artista y qué tipo de docente. Yo me pienso como un artista que puede ocasionalmente ser docente pero definitivamente no como un artista docente. Creo que un buen artista o un artista completo suele transmitir metodologías o procesos de conocimiento dentro de su producción y esto implica también un cierto tipo de pedagogía, no considero la creación artística y la docencia como conceptos 100% dispares. En muchas ocasiones el ímpetu artístico se relaciona con procesos educativos a través de otro tipo de proyectos. SOMA es un gran ejemplo de esto en la Ciudad de México. No son necesariamente los artistas fundadores los que imparten la docencia, pero si fueron ellos quienes generaron el contexto específico para que surgiera esta escuela de enseñanza artística experimental para y desde lxs artistas. Hace un par de años ofrecí una clínica en la Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros junto a la historiadora María Magdalena Pérez. Fuimos invitados como parte de un programa de aproximaciones al Archivo Siqueiros y trabajamos sobre la historia oral alrededor del museo y el legado de Angelica y David. Nuestra clínica abordó la invisibilización de colaboraciones y colaboradores al momento de historizar ciertos procesos artísticos. En un ejercicio de este taller le solicité a los participantes que reflexionáramos sobre ciertas obras canónicas de la historia occidental y que se dispusieran a enlistar a todxs lxs colaboradorxs qué se les pudieran ocurrir respecto a la creación de estas piezas. Desde prestadores de servicios hasta fabricantes de materiales y herramientas pasando por asistentes, estudiantes y otros potenciales coautores. Recuerdo que esto al final detonó una discusión respecto a la figura del creador único que generalmente exhibe la historia y de la pérdida histórica y cronológica que esto suele llegar a generar. Al final la historia del arte también la escriben los vencedores.

Aleph Escobedo

ARTIST

Aleph Escobedo

TEPIC, 1988

Alef Escobedo

PAINTING, SCULPTURE, INSTALLATION

ARTISTIC REFERENCES

MATHEW BARNEY, FRANCIS BACON

JUNE 2021

Intuitive Narratives
Interview with Aleph Escobedo

BY REGINA DE CON COSSÍO
Photographs Rogelio Reynoso

Intuitive Narratives.
Interview with El Aleph Escobedo

BY REGINA DE CON COSSÍO

ALEPH ESCOBEDO (Tepic, Mexico, 1988) work is focused on the human relationship with nature and with that considered as the reality. He usually mixes scientific, literary and personal experiences to build speculative narratives through drawing, paintings, sculptures and installations.

As one of his main interests is tense our perception of reality, Escobedo is kind of a contemporary flaneur who explores and observes reality while doing dérives in both natural and urban spaces. In times where social lockdown is the rule, he has turn their walkings into a deeply analysis about the conceptual and practical possibilities of the materials he work with.

As part of Sybaris’s curatorial projects, we visited a lagoon on the outskirts of Mexico City to explore with Aleph the power of intuition and setting up one of his installations in a natural space. Following his instinct, he wanted to find either a river or a lagoon to provoke a visual encounter between the natural element of water with his piece Ya dijimos no. Here is part of the adventure and the conversation I had with him.

In a time of so much uncertainty due to the different crises we are experiencing (health, economic, social, etc.), what is the role of art in these discussions? Do you have something to propose to get closer to what we call reality? The question comes because you mention that in your work you use tools that put reality in tension.

I believe that in any crisis art can function as a prism through which we can observe reality in another way, as an image, with a more objective vision, or with other nuances. We can see things in more detail or perspective, as if art were a lens. I am not sure that the problem will be solved, but it can help to separate our consciousness from the present, to direct our gaze and attention towards something that we had overlooked, which could become a new route towards the exit of that crisis.

How has your perception changed from the last 12 months in which we have suffered a series of technological changes, communication and the way we understand social networks? Have your artistic practices been modified? Are the processes the same?

In the last year I have been working inside the studio, before I spent much more time in the derived part of the trip, the walk and the exploration in outdoor spaces. My practice has turned towards the formal reflection of the materials that I use. I try to keep the autobiographical element in the work, however there comes a time when the production in the same works takes me to places that escape my will, they are more intuitive in the sense that I do not have a preconceived image of what the final work, but each day they evolve by themselves. By spending
more time in the studio, I have been able to review ideas and works that I had on hiatus, waiting between papers. Now, by taking them up again, they take on a new meaning by merging with the ideas I am playing with in the present.

Do you notice any difference in the performative capacities of art in current times?

I see the performative part of the work in its socialization. I am struck by the ways in which artists now show or present a work, either through the internet or in a physical space. I think that’s where the performative is to be found. Today, with so many digital tools and communication channels available, works are susceptible to new mutations. A sculpture can be an object that the artist uses in a video, through which it relates an event, which ends up becoming a prophecy or an Instagram story. And what is the work, the sculpture, the video on Instagram or the whole process?

The concept of narrative is associated with literature, cinema, comics … It is a concept in which a story is told through a sequence of images or words. However, in your piece there also seems to be a story behind that unfolds in a circular or spiral way, how is it that a circular piece of art can be turned into a narrative platform? Is there a beginning, an end, a middle point? How do you approach this concept when making the artwork?

For me, a circular work is one that allows a possibility, that does not take something for granted but rather asks or even doubts what it is saying. I have always been interested in those elements that promote this kind of transition, such as the arrow or the hole. The arrow can be seen as an isolated object, and even then, even if they are not present, it always suggests a source and a destination. The hole or hole works in a similar way to the arrow, it is a space of transition and possibility, it is a threshold that separates the exterior and the interior, therefore it contains 2 moments in itself, with which a space-temporal narrative is generated.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROGELIO REYNOSO
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