Things make their Appearance
For a senior generation of progressive Chilean artists the grand narrative of their work was never in doubt. For those that came after by a generation or two the question has been more equivocal. How does one make art from the relatively banal facts of an everyday, no longer set against the backdrop of tragedy and loss: of torture and the disappeared? How does one engage with an audience in a consumerist global market place for art? These are the questions that situate the practice of my studio.
If it is the role of the economist, the politician and others to consider questions of mass production, it is, perhaps, left to the artist – the artistic community – to consider and reflect on the question of mass consumption: to consider the ‘consumption' of art in a world where mass consumption has become hyper-aestheticised but equally passive: where the object is subsumed under the brand, falls under the sign of the brand, and is thereby incidental, disposable – at the very least, interchangeable. How then does an artist flag up the quidity of things in their thingyness? How does an artist create the unique that does not lose sight of the everyday that is our shared experience? Which is to say, how does an artist occupy and share a space with an audience on common terms and yet, withal, extends or heightens that experience?
My work negotiates with these issues: neither to ignore them, nor to acquiesce to the economy of this marketplace, nor to parody that consumer market as a given of irresolvable difference. Yet my work does make play with the banal, the everyday, the serial production. Perhaps I can say: my work adopts the everyday when it has out-lasted its use value or its economic exchange value. That might be a starting point. Lipsticks when they have become useless stubs: disposable plastic cups, crumpled and discarded. And then there have been bottle tops and flowerpots and neglected things that no marketeer will ever make chic or sexy. There is the trace of humanity in these mere things: handled, then used up, close to exhaustion or extinction. Something of this sort of ‘mereness,' just the physical weight of things, was part of Minimalism's agenda. Their radical reduction of form, which broke with the mirroring of nature in artistic practice, left the viewer with only the narrative of a place: the “field,” as we have come to know it 1. It was as if we were thrown into a strange square world where the viewer was thrown back on his/her own resources. So then my work begins. I want to throw the viewer back into the world of the everyday: I want to present, aesthetically, the pathos of the everyday and thereby claim a certain freedom or detachment from that pathos: a different address to that pathos.
I work as a sculptor. That is to say, I work within the formal discipline of manipulating objects in space. If a work succeeds it is because formal considerations have been translated into practical techniques for the manipulation of materials. My departure from traditional sculptural practice is in the materials that I use and the adaptation of existing techniques to the requirements of those materials. As we have seen, these materials are adopted from the everyday: not quite ready-mades, but something like. This in turn calls for a further departure from traditional practice that might best be thought of in terms of the difference between ‘field' and ‘perspective.' With a perspectival approach the viewer is assigned a point of view by the work itself: but it is an empty place, an ideal standpoint, without respect to who that viewer is as an individual . That perspectival point of view supposes understanding to reside in the work at the behest of the artist: in terms of its meaning, it presumes a single and one correct interpretation of the work. In a field we wander: we chose: we are “nomadic.” 2The work occurs, in that it occurs to us: it is left open, susceptible to, vulnerable to, the play of possibility in its engagement with the viewer.
While I recognise that my work will inevitably be thought through discourses of ‘repetition' and ‘the serial,' my own intentions aim for something more humane, more sensual and immediate. Which brings me, finally, to an aspect of the work, El objeto y su manifestación , here at INOVA. A veil of inattention characterizes everyday life. This work seeks gradually to withdraw that veil. Here scale and the chromatic effect of the differing shade of white play their part. For what the viewer is first presented with is an overall ‘shimmer' rendering, for the moment, the individual objects indistinguishable. There is an immediate play on the senses. It is only after a further engagement in the ‘field' that the nature of the individual objects becomes apparent. Working in this way, I would like to think the work acts as a guide to meaning, interpretation, understanding and so forth rather than as the administrator of one received idea and in that way turns outwards again to the world we live in: to return a sense of value to the everyday.
1 See Rosalind Krasuss' ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field' in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (MIT Press:1986)
2 See Gilles Deleuze, Diffrence and Repetition , pp.45-50, on “univocity” and “nomadic distribution” (Continuum: 2004)
About the Artist
Chilean artist Livia Marin received her M.A. from the Universidad de Chile in 2000 and is currently pursuing an M.Phil./Ph.D. in Fine Art Practice at Goldsmiths College in London. She has had four solo exhibitions in Santiago, Chile, most recently at Galería ANIMAL, and has participated in several group exhibitions in Latin America and Europe. She has received several awards from Chile's National Fund for the Arts and Culture (FONDART) and in 2005 received the Altazor Prize in Installation and Video Art. This year Marin is having her first two exhibitions in the United States; the other is Poetics of the Handmade at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
El objeto y su manifestación II (The Object and Its Manifestation II)
1000 plaster objects, 21 wooden shelves (each shelf 39 x 39 x 3 ½ inches)