In Colombia, an internal war has been going on for more than 5 decades. The reasons for the conflict have changed, increased and mutated for many years, but one single thing remains the biggest asset of war and the strongest reason for confrontation: ownership of the land.
Landscape Disruptions is a project that deals with the questions of territory, power and land possession. Through the use of mirrors and movement, the photographs are the composition of the reflected landscape and the documented landscape, merged into a single one. The results are visual acts that allude to the absurdity of transforming and containing the land, as well as personal gestures of resistance to the ongoing conflict in Colombia.
*All of the pictures have been documented across different regions of Colombia and they are the result of an interaction with mirrors and photography. This si an ongoing project, which started in 2012.
The topography of islands make them the perfect territories to be conquered: surrounded by sea and approachable from every angle.
My obsession with islands intersected with my obsession with language and translation as forms of appropriation. For this reason, I started a collection of stamps of islands that are current colonies.
Stamps are an official type of currency used to set authoritarian governance over any given territory. Using language and imagery related to the nature of a specific place, stamps identify the governance of any given land. The imagery resembles the botanical expeditions of colonial movements and sometimes documents not only the botanical nature but the human nature as well. The imagery is at the same time hauntingly beautiful and deeply violent.
This form of exoticization and appropriation is still used by a handful of nations that still claim more than 100 islands all over the world as their own.
Meanwhile addresses time through its form, content and speech.
A written sentence alludes to a temporal meaning. Time, at the same time, shows itself as uncontainable matter. Light, on the other hand, becomes a graphic language that translates into mutating typographic shapes and words. Finally, words lose their original meaning and acquire a metaphoric sense.
These screen prints are part of a body of work (in process) about volcanos, that reflects on their relation to the origin of life and the notion of habitable territories. Through the interpretation of volcanos as the genesis of geo-political land, I am reflecting on the ways in which the current global environment has completely mutated through the mobilization of people across continents and countries, putting the traditional ideas of boundaries and frontiers into question. I am drawn to explore the mythical aspect of volcanos as the originators of life, in relation to the mythical character of man-made politics that exist under an imaginary dynamic of authority over nature.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga volcano (erupted in 2014)
Mount Tambora (erupted in 1815)
Theory of sets
The work parts from the concept of the “theory of the sets” and the way infinitude is described under its definition. This theory implies the possibility of forming sets of any possible variety and quantity of elements: it is possible to imagine a set made up of a bicycle, an elephant and a song. However, when one tries to refer to the biggest set of all, it is impossible to imagine it without having to think about another set that contains it as a single element. This relation continues incessantly, without reaching an end.
It is possible to think infinitude, not as a system that functions through invention or novelty, but as something that is only feasible through the configuration of existing matter and existing ideas. This way, originality is abolished from the system.
This project was developed in two stages: the first one in 2010 utilized a patrimonial building as a sculpture mold and sand as its sculpture matter. The second version of the project took place in 2012, between a house and the street in front of it. In both cases, the pieces became changing sculptures that transformed infinite times in infinite manners and that overflowed their molds.
The origin of concrete poetry is related to the growth of industry and technology in Europe in the 1930’s, the rise of abstraction in the arts, and the advent of modernism. The concrete poetry movement claimed that poetry was not only a form of literary expression, but a visual media that could transmit, through shapes and typographic layouts, the values of modernity. As in architecture, in concrete poetry the form is a very part of the function. In South America, the concrete poetry movement rose between the 50’s and 70’s, with the arrival of modernity and the dream of a developed south. By that time, the idea of changing the political landscape was very related to the idea of modifying the geographical landscape.
Birds of Inaccessible Island
In the southern Atlantic Ocean, at 1,553 Nautical Miles from South Africa and 2,052 Nautical Miles from the coast of Uruguay, lies the Inaccessible Island, whose name reflects its geographic remoteness.
Since 1816, the island has been under the rule of the British government. Originally named Night Glass Island, the high cliffs surrounding the island–which leave no open space for approach by sea–eventually earned it the title “Inaccessible”. Inaccessible Island has witnessed a number of expeditions, adventures, and shipwrecks in the years since its discovery. But it has never permitted any human inhabitants.
In 1962, scientists from the Royal Society Expedition approached Inaccessible Island with the objective of mapping it. Unable to get to the interior of the island, they tried to draw its perimeter from their ship but the difficult weather conditions defeated their attempt.
Twenty years later, students from a British university succeeded in conducting the first modest survey of the species from Inaccessible. Their biggest discovery was the Inaccessible Rail (Atlantisia rogersi), which is not found anywhere else in the world. Although abundant within its native habitat, the Inaccessible Rail is classified as a vulnerable species, at constant risk from chance events, such as the accidental introduction of an invasive predator species.
The Inaccessible Island: colonized but never inhabited, authoritatively named but unofficially titled. Its location, its form, and its conditions have resisted being fully discovered and totally comprehended. It is as real as any other landmass on this planet, yet it has escaped the barriers of reality and embraced the freedom that imagination can offer to any given island, or any given being.
This is a collection and classification of the birds of Inaccessible Island. All of the birds are fictional, except one: the Inaccessible Rail, whose own existence is almost unbelievable.
In history, the acts of naming and taxonomizing are intertwined with the practices of power and colonization. Today, these colonization practices have been normalized in the naming codes that we use to set limits among the social territories that we inhabit–race, culture, gender, geography, nature–. A path of linguistic deviation that questions those codes through the translation of meanings is a means of resistance to the hegemonic duality that divides the world between the good and the bad. Such deviation is possible through the action of imagining alternative truths.
The grafting (translocation of the tissues of a body to a different body or body part) of a living being within itself; puts into question the ideas of alteration, nature and power. It is at the same time an act of deep violence –altering the original body by cutting and replacing its parts– and an act of immense love, needed through the healing process for the grafting to happen.
Before moving to the US I had never seen a grafting of a plant. When I encountered the first one, I was completely obsessed by the transgression of such a subtle act –cutting and pasting–. It wasn't after I translated the word graft, from English to Spanish, that I realized what it meant for me. Almost two years ago, I had a medical procedure that resulted in the grafting of a piece of skin from my belly to my head. I witnessed the contradiction of the graft, as something painful but necessary for me to be healthy.
As an act of healing and as a personal project, for the last 2 years I have been grafting fruit plants within their own selves, with out any scientific or botanical purpose. Through the alteration, I am interested in submitting to doubt the notions of what is considered natural and what is not, questioning the ideas of normalcy and perfection from the context of my own body and my plants.
Categorizing and naming social bodies is an act of colonization in the sense that it uses language as a means of imposing a dominant set of meanings over one or another being. This series of fake botanical illustrations reflect on the act of naming as an exercise of power and challenge the idea of truth and markings.
The botanical illustrations are visual, imaginary graftings of Colombian native plants and Californian native plants.
*Screenprinted illustrations series
Unsinking a Ship
A moving image of the sea played in reverse and in slow motion is a metaphor for a concrete action –emerging a sunken ship from the bottom of the sea–, as well as an allegory for the idea of failure as a mode of creation.
*Short poem by Samuel Becket
Essay on emerging a sunken ship
Residency in Santa Cruz
Two projects developed during an art residence period in Bolivia in 2010.
St. Cruz de la Sierra is a city in the south of Bolivia characterized by a mixture of occidental influences and indigenous tradition. In such encounter of cultures, identity can be jeopardized and nationality can become a point of rivalry.
The word that traduces “belong” is translated into eight of the languages spoken in St. Cruz, excluding Spanish, the official language of Bolivia. Words become symbols, which become graphics, which become universally legible.
The residential houses of St. Cruz de la Sierra have enormous, exuberant gardens of many kinds. The arbitrary transposal of the garden with a domestic space of a house, leads to the possibility of observing these two landscapes as two fictional and manufactured contexts.
*Thanks to KIOSKO Gallery, Residencias en Red de Iberoamérica, Trata de Artistas and La Agencia. **Photographies by Jorge Arias
Making an Island
Throwing fertile, potting soil onto the ocean is a metaphor I have appropriated for making an island. Islands are worlds on their own: portions of land surrounded by sea and sky, formed by the movement of earth underneath in the deepest grounds of the ocean. Each of them has an ecosystem, a fauna and flora particular of their own place in the earth´s surface. At the same time, they are part of a larger world made up by many other islands. As different as they all are, some of them share the same organisms, animals and vegetation and they all relate to one another even in the most basic sense.
Islands, as humans and archipelagos, as social forms are all related through actions: the movement of the tide, a whisper, a glimpse.