The origin of multiple crossroads
Through the facade in which the world appears under, there is an infinite network of channels. Nature and man works through continuous flows. Chilean artist, Juan a Gómez, has studied the various forms in which organisms and different structures are weaved together to form something bigger that transcends them. The result of her artwork shows the complexity that her search has reached.
Aseries of drawings and diagrams lay about the table. Everything begins there. “In the beginning, I draw what I visualize, the scale in which I will work, the organ, the system or the structures that I want to embroider,” says Juana Gómez regarding this point where the first signs of an unborn work or art emerge. The final concept is photographed and printed on cotton or linen canvas, where a network that seeks answers is about to arise, a channel that connects arguments and elements that coexist in our ecosystem and that stealthily keep the secret of the composition of vital beings that surround us.
“I start to work with several anatomy books at a time, since I seek to understand how our organism is connected, and that isn’t found in one book alone,” adds the artist while embroidering the narrative and perimeter of her work. The intercommunication, the links, the nexus. The sharing of information and the form in which the roles are complemented is her subject. The dependence that creates a community. “Once I have the organs, I draw directly on the photo printed on the canvas. Later, I choose the color palette and I start to embroider. It is a slow process and sometimes full of mistakes,” she describes, while speaking about the composition of the monstrosity that propels this interpretation to the completion of a new piece.
It is a flow of information, a help system, a system of processes that are interrelated and depend on that which emerges from creation or an ongoing process. So everything results in nature giving shelter to these answers. The origin of macrostructures that make up everything organic. The constitution of everything and the parts that are brought together to form it are underneath the superficiality. “If we remove that first layer of skin that makes us so uniform as human beings, the complexity and richness of our internal structure appears. Underneath the skin is where we find that which links us to other phenomena in the world,” says Juana, who devotes her work to showing those flows and connections that join us and make us human. “I’m not talking about an abstract idea, but rather a physical verification: internally, we are built similarly to the roots of a plant, internet transit routes, sea currents, mineral seams,” she concludes while emphasizing the idea of a world of homogenous connections and compositions that’re fabricated our surroundings.
From root to branch
Your work seems to mix the organic and the sensitive. What do they symbolize and how did the idea of creating this link arise?
For me, interconnection is the central aspect of everything and the most typical symbols are roots and trees. This design is the pattern that largely supports what we are. Our body is made of the sum of these filigrees that have their main trunk and get finer and finer as they near their ends. We comply with a design from which we are only one more expression.
How do you get the structure of the networks and how do you finish them once you have started?
None of my pieces are complete: the level of detail that could be reached is infinitely greater than that which I can represent through embroidery, but there is a moment in which you are able to catch a glimpse of that complexity. It is an exact point, a moment where a part shows everything. You must let the image take its course and let it mature and grow on its own. The model, all of a sudden, is left aside and you start to see the work itself, like something new, with its own rhythm. Sometimes you leave it from one night to anther and it is as if it grows in the meantime, as if it has its own will. There you know that you don’t need to work on it again.
Does your work seek to show how to give meaning to a structure and its functioning?
I think that my work speaks of things that are so essential that they aren’t noticed. However, we bear this history in our bones. These same organic structures come to life in technology and we are affecting the social behavior of human beings. The human machine, which forms us as human beings goes beyond the physical body, it is slowly being revealed like a second skin that now covers the entire planet. I think that my work also seeks to put emphasis on one of our major blind spots: the fact that this experience and this body is finite.
Regarding what you exhibit in your work, is it a replica or a reflection of your own body?
I have embroidered almost this entire series about my own body. Working with my body seems to me more direct and honest than working with someone else. Choosing a model implied a decision or discrimination, and I didn’t want have any aesthetic biases and would rather work with what I have, with what I am. Challenging my own image has been a much more difficult task, since I am extremely modest. When I start to draw on top of me, I start to see myself as an anatomy model, something dead. I had always thought that I was ready to face death, but this work has made me feel more fragile. It has made my own body more present, with its strengths and weaknesses, and that unavoidable awareness connects us with our finite nature and with the fear and wonder of death.