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Space: Casal Solleric - Zona Base
Cycle: Camera Obscura
Curator: Fernando Gómez de la Cuesta
Dates: 11th April - 14th June
Institutions: Ajuntament de Palma and Fundación Banco Santander

Camera Obscura: the unseen  The creative act is a constant struggle where there are few respites, a permanent struggle that begins with oneself and from which you can never emerge unscarred. The dialectics and symbiosis that the artist configures between the formal and the conceptual, inspiration and transpiration, reality and abstraction, the meaningful and the superficial, attraction and repulsion, the literal and the symbolic, direct and indirect, aesthetics and poetics all stake out a system of complex coordinates between which she moves with passion and energy, with pain and hope.

The piece Perseverancia (2014) [1] emerges from one of the underground spaces of the Casal Solleric, forming two vertical columns of cloth that stretch to the ceiling from the leather boots that serve as the base on the floor. It is a delicately powerful work which preserves a direct reference to her first installation, titled Mujeres sobre zapatos de plataforma [Women on platform shoes] (1993), while confirming that it is the language that a creator uses and develops over time which entitles her to a parcel of genuine freedom, or as Aláez put it, "perseverance justifies the trajectory of an artist". The visual objective of Perseverancia is to join the two levels of this unusual space, attracting the attention of an public that may well remain indifferent to what goes on in this old oil deposit, now converted into an exhibition space.

Ana Laura Aláez has always expressed an interest in the representation of persons as a language, and always felt that large cities are appropriate places to affirm that culture is shaped by differences. With its direct reference to the work Chair (1969) by Allen Jones, Chair-Dog-Woman-Pond-Picnic Performance (2013) [2], appeared during a work trip to London, a city which the artist relates to because, as a teenager, she saw it as a mythical space where dressing was a way of making a personal statement using the only material one had: clothes. As she herself says: "my physical appearance was the first seed of my art. The theory would come later, once I started to articulate the narratives of my looks and garments." The work consists of six photographs that capture, after Manet, a contemporary Déjeuner sur l'herbe (1863) in a countrified situation which removes it from the urban context. With this work, Aláez set off along a route that would take her back to the origins, to the space where essential issues are encountered, and where we are at our most vulnerable, but also stronger.

The series Contra la naturaleza [against nature] (2012-2015) [3] takes place in this environment, and is one of the first works to be produced by Ana Laura Aláez in Mallorca, where she consolidated her interest in myth and narration, as a tale that, as Paul Ricoeur said: "refers to events from the origin of time, and is destined to establish the ritual action of the men of today and, in general, to set in motion the currents of thought and action that lead men to understand themselves in the world". Aláez, as a person who has so far always lived in large cities where differences could be expressed faces the challenge of using her new rural environment. This is why the title of the work exhorts us to go against our biological grain, to subvert the inherited body and to take refuge in the constructed body: "I am not interested in sexual categories: homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality. The conflict is elsewhere. The person as an entity in continuous change; this is my idea of 'queer'. 'Queer' is a natural tendency for me. It's not strange. The 'natural' seems strange to me". A series of three photographs that document three actions, underpinned by the idea of nature as a refuge and as exposure at the same time, and in which there is a silence that incites each of us to face our internal conflicts.

This approach in dialectical but not binary terms, deliberately ambiguous, treating ambiguity as an asset, expresses the vital, creative, changeable and self-aware character of the artist through all her projects and is on display here to some extent. The following piece on this itinerary is proof of this: Culito [Bottom] (1996-2008) [4] is one of the first cast sculptures by Aláez in which she had the work of Eva Hesse in mind, and her working of ideas that are barely acknowledged in the masculine world, such as fluids and secretions. The work again reveals some of the formal and conceptual elements that have accompanied the artist on her creative path: "the finished, polished forms and their murky side". It also makes it clear how Aláez has always sidestepped the rules of gender, linked in this case to the issues of creation and life: "I rejected the examples of male/female that were put before me from the start. As a teenager I was forced to fight against my father in the question of gender. But I believe this battle went beyond the biological aspect, of having female organs. I think his view of the world was very narrow: I wanted to believe there was more diversity, that your feelings and your own self are unfathomable".

Pulso estético / Pulso poético [aesthetic struggle / poetic struggle] (2015) [5] is the site-specific piece created specially for this exhibition, serving as an epilogue but also as a new beginning, a reflection by Ana Laura Aláez on the act of creation itself. It is in this process that the combat between knowing and acting, between working and feeling takes place. The artist can be seen as a simple intermediary who expresses this "dark" side, the arena where our doubts and fears emerge. Experience fights for a place in the light, to become a symbol. "The camera obscura" in this case is the artist herself, as the instrument that has to obey the "orders" of the piece. The formal appearance of the work is a tensed geometric figure in which the organic elements underlie this struggle that serves as the title of the piece and, by extension, the whole project. A sculpture that is a discussion between the present and the unseen, the culmination of a complex enquiry into the act of creation: How much truth is there in ideas? How much of people is there in things?

Duration: since 11 of april until 14 of june 2015 .

Place of exhibitions

Date of last modification: 26 of June 2015


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