From April 6 to May 21, 2013.
María José Argenzio, Libia Posada and Paula Usuga.
Exhibition curated by María Antonia De Castro, for the project Jugada a 3 Bandas.
The Works of this exhibition come together round the subject of the body in opposition of the demand uses and pressure of socio-political expectations. Supporter of extreme tensions that challenge its resistance. Irrelevant which part of the world these artists come from and where they work. The same transgressions converge on the body in Medellín, Guayaquil or in London, all due to gender, appearance, disaffection, health, survival or due to the destruction of its own memory…
Resistance support(s) talks about the human body as a site of convergence of many socio-cultural and political demands that are acting as an endurance test and also makes visible the encounter of unresolved conflicts that force it to challenge the limits of its own nature. Beginning with these common features, the three artists have different but complementary approaches towards the human body´s prominent role in their artistic creation. Libia Posada (1959, Medellín, Colombia) considers the body as a starting point for analysis, narration and revelation of hostile social phenomena and circumstances that come together over its surface. For Paula Usaga (1975, Medellín, Colombia) the body and its identity, assume the centre of attention drawing on personal experiences. Within her usual work about anti-nature, María José Argenzio (Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1977) here portrays the cruelest transgressions using the female human body as the base for a cultural idea that aspires for decomposition and sublimation. Passive object and active subject, the body is still a battlefield where opposing forces meet in the conflict direction between ability to withstand and power to resist, individual frailty and public, cultural or political violence, freedom to choose and need to survive, beauty of artifacts and pain, disdain of identity and necessity of memory preservation. Libia Posada’s point of view of the body is rooted in her medical knowledge and experience curing diseases, wounds and injuries. An experience that develops between the depersonalization that Libia as a scientist ought to apply in her professional practice and the emotional intensity of the contact with human frailty in extreme situations. Disease and death form a borderline or borderland where the human gets involved, where body is more body, the human is more human and the animalistic and instinctive are truly animal. Here all our definitions about humanity are called into question.
Taking advantage of her knowledge of anomalies that can occur in the body, Libia Posada highlights socio-political problems that converge on it. Applying her scientific knowledge, after a profound analysis of effects, she makes a diagnosis of causes which is used for giving a treatment. In Signos cardinales (Cardinal Signs, 2008), Posada drew on men’s and women’s legs the map of the journeys these people had realized during their lives. The visual representation of these itineraries makes visible the topography of pain that had accompanied each of these individuals who were obliged to leave their referential territories because of external political and economic reasons. The graphic representation of these places, origins, routes and destinations, also have the mission to maintain memories alive. So this sketch acts as an activating agent of memory, an essential and indispensable component of our identity threatened by the absence of the past and the anonymity in the new strange territory. In case of Paula Usaga her own body is her working material. This artist has created artifacts with a high degree of plasticity; her prolific artistic career is highly dominated by the usage of tactile materials. For this reason body as flesh is not only a base for an identity interfered by the contact with other individuals but also a support for a performing activity. A ritual component is present in the majority of her work as a tool for the identification and celebration of an act whose re-presentation out of context exerts a cathartic and healing effect on fear and trauma. In her work presented in this exhibition, be/beast (in Spanish ser/res, 2012), her body is tested through a painful ritual which allows for various interpretations. Out of all, I would like to explain the one, which refers to the fact that marks on our skin always had and in many cases still have a certain meaning, especially within those communities which want to maintain the memory of what human beings are in relation to other species. In certain indigenous tribes, marks are a sign of identification of human beings as a distinct species, as creators of culture, inventors of devices, able to transform the material and submit themselves voluntarily to pain, which is a sign of psychological strength, physical value and freedom of choice. In the way that a person without any marks is usually considered little more than an animal. Here and now, Paula Usaga is actualizing the ritual of marking, giving it an opposite meaning, which explains that the significance of this gesture varies in other contexts. Changing time and space, this particular act that in our culture is just done on animals, reconsiders a pile of issues about the identity of the human. The word be/beast branded on her skin reinforces the question that her body bears her problems related with the fact that she is a woman and her cultural considerations. (The word beast, apart from its reference to quadruped animals, in Latin has ambiguous meaning: in the affirmative it means something but in the negative it means nothing. This usage also appears in Catalan which is spoken in the Spanish Levant.) María José Argenzio’s work explores transgression of the nature of things, activating different games of impersonation which sometimes consist in disguising the natural appearance with artificial wrapping. Another example is when displacing elements, taking them out of context and manipulating them, thus gaining new appearances, usage and meaning. In this work (7.1 kgs, 2009) she focuses on the legs of a classical ballet dancer who exercises with 7.1 kgs of metal weights attached to her slippers. In Occidental culture classical ballet is considered as masterful body training that ennobles the physical image of people, especially of women, raising their body above the ground while making acrobatic movements that defy gravity. This video attracts attention to the violence our body has to bear and to our resistance to pain. The artist wanted to lay emphasis on the contradiction between the idea of ethereal beauty our civilised mind has created as one of the greatest representations of femininity and the hard suffering this means for a female body. As a bearer of political forces and cultural usage, diverse degrees of violence appear in the critical review of the body made by these artists, reflecting the aggressive nature of the extreme demands to which the body is exposed.
María Antonia De Castro, February 2013.