Few are the certainties that we have in our life. There is one, difficult to name, that is universal. Every living being must know that he or she will die. In the revealing Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying, author Sogyal Rinpoche –among other beautiful truths related to the end of life– notes that the great problem of the West is that we have not produced a culture of death.
We do not have songs, poetry, art that speak positively of this final period of life. We do not even bother, artistically speaking, to look into its eyes. Would our relationship to it be any different if a culture surrounding death had existed since the beginning?
As a global society, we have insisted on denying the end of life, on mocking it and hiding from it in the creases of time so that it will not find us –with the illusion that that might happen. Since the dawn of times, great men have destined their riches and human resources to build mausoleums and buildings that should outlive them and thus overcome the unavoidable destiny of every living being. Curiously, it is men –the male gender specifically– who devote themselves to the attainment of these monuments in order to be remembered. However, the unspoken rules of the societies set us women to perform other kind of tasks, which are fundamental to life, yet cyclical and untraceable.
We could call the male task “monumental”, for its illusory nature of perennial, and the female one “entropic”, for its tendency to chaos and its repetition as the inner workings.
Precisely, it is a group of female artists –Cruda (Raw) is how they call themselves– who reflect on this problem and, by echoing the entropic activity, took charge of ensuring the continuity of a cycle. And how did they achieve it? By intervening it. After knowing of the future disappearance of a building –something increasingly frequent in our gentrified cities–, Cruda decided to borrow the language of demolition to make it a means itself. A path of debris and uncertainty, a fragile bridge, invites the visitor to a tour of poetic signs reconstructing an open-ended cycle.
Cruda is formed by Silvia Brewda, Ariela Naftal, Rut Rubinson and Rita Simoni. These are four artists with a long history and personal poetics which coincide, at times, and that complement each other, at some moments. Beyond the visual strategies that each one of them have been delving into in their work –from engraving, to site-specific installation, through video and performance–, this collective is born due to the necessity of the historical context, the urgency of getting together to guarantee that “unity makes strength”. In the context of “Devenir y de ir”, Cruda intervened a classic real estate cycle (demolition-construction) to install a provisional narrative, a sort of rite of passage in a palimpsest format.
We are welcomed by a space that we must not confuse with the staging of a marsh, but with its concrete update: it is the original magma surrounded by the local vegetation, as the pure power of what is alive in creative co-participation with Rita Simoni, who, instead of re-creating it, channeled it so the experience of a time travel to the beginning of life could be enabled to the spectator. The path continues when we leave behind a remote past, with no other presence than natural elements and water, to find the first archeological vestiges of a supposed past society of a future –our future. Diagrams, analysis, deconstruction and forms with no apparent meaning are the elements that we see in this work by Ariela Naftal. It is the scenario of an act apparently paused instants before we walk in, where its protagonist’s traces still seem fresh and her own speculations question us from the wall. Only behind those unfolded annotations, the possible answer shines with an elusive nature –between the jewel and the MacGuffin– that we may never turn to look at. If we continue through secretly illuminated debris and narrow aisles with openings as if they were nibbled, the precise and subtle installation of Rut Rubinson interpellates us. True to her poetics, she worked on subtracting lexicons to the grammar of the demolition and she puts us in front of a gesture that is minimum, minimalist, but not less hot, intriguing, strange. The work that lights up, in tandem with a series of mirrors, seems to ask us the intimate –and awkward– question: “What makes your heart beat? What runs in your blood?”. Immediately afterwards, as a relief, as a caress, the space opens in an intricate and light manner simultaneously, as giving permission to imagine and dream to the beat of the figures that dance in the middle of the space. The installation of Silvia Brewda is a wager on the poetic power, on the magnet of meanings, of the abstraction. It is a three-dimensional weave that emerges suggested by perforations, shadows and suspensions. It is seen by means of what is not seen in a successful materialization of the light games and transparencies made between the eye, the mirrors and the holes in the paper.
This magnificent work seeks to rehabilitate an invisibilized and defunctionalized space, that will be opened to new purposes, new visitors and a series of programmed cultural actions to give it a new life, if only for a few weeks.
As a palimpsest, written over what is written, the intervention, that the experience of Cruda proposes, adds up to the cycles already lived by the space. Following that idea of entropic labor –before the perennial–, of female sensitivity, the artists, in recognition of our brief passing through this world, connect to an energy that has already been circulating in this way. Why, perhaps, is this not a propitious era to reutilize, to recycle, the twist of a screw before the ex nihilo creation and the resource abuse? That is, Cruda intervenes a cycle that has its own time lapse, within a greater one. Because we are star dust, from them we come and to them we are going, and before the artists came to produce the art alquemy, the building that they intervened was a by-the-hour hotel that formerly was a farm at the edge of the Vega Creek, that formerly was a marsh without men nor beasts, that formerly was… matter?
Mariana Rodríguez Iglesias
(Bachelor of Arts, curator, educator)
Palermo, Buenos Aires, summer, 2016