Throughout 118 years, the Venice Biennale (1895) has received different artistic manifestations creating a long list of participating countries and making it into an important figure in contemporary art. Our country, gradually, has participated in this organization and an example of it, Diaspora, which is an exhibition that gathers the work of 5 distinguish Chilean artists as part of the 57th version titled Viva Arte Viva (2017) that is presented at the Cerrillos National Center for Contemporary Art.
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We all are part of the diaspora; this maybe could be the part that really attracts your attention, because we continuously are repopulating different territories. However, talking about conquest, it can be sometimes circumscribed not only to the take of property, but also to the appropriation, castration, cancellation and stripping to whoever pretend to be subdued. This is the perfect case of Bernardo Oyarzún, which is expressed in a series of historical abominations supported by euphemism so false like colonization or evangelization that both justify brutality to our indigenous people. Actually, Bernardo emigrates from Chile and was forced to adapt in this “Huinca world,” but the cosmogony ancestral echo that is inside him offers resistance from his artworks. Now, in Werkén (2017), this is an artwork with 1300 carved wood masks made by indigenous artisans and it is supported by a steal pole. These masks are traditional in several Mapuche’s ceremonial rituals where some participants are covered with this Kollongor or masks in order to protect their community from evil spirits. Imagery together with LED lights technology can create a contemporary artwork where all Mapuche’s last names registered so far are included. Werkén, that means “messenger,” is a way to emphasize the conflict between the State and the people’s mystic message, representative of a crow that does not hesitate of rising up.
Maybe in a more explicit way, even though with multiple connotations, Ismael Frigerio in Southern Cross (2017) through 30 photographs about copper an other elements in mixed media, wood and photolit, proposes a rescue of the historical memory by dissecting a body layer by layer (The Atacama Desert). He creates a superposition of meanings where a ghost voice resound claiming for justice in an essentially inhospitable territory that is, at the same time, full of places where cultural and historic syncretism can show its wounds. Thousands of open wounds appeared from Humberstone, Santa Laura, Pedro de Valdivia, María Elena and a lot of saltpeter offices where the shadow of industrialization buried its ruthless claw. Based on this testimony, Frigerio decides to question an economic model that took advantage of lots of human beings, but here it expresses in that silent suffering engraved in copper, and perpetually in those crosses that are put even more into our obstinate memory.
With a completely different proposal, Alejandra Roddoff (Santiago, 1960) in Mutatis mutandis (oak) makes the ethereal a journey where truth of the instant is expressed with a frozen movement trying to encapsulate the cartography of earth’s pulse through a snapshot that exacerbates its temporary, circular and continuous dimension. This does not just concentrate on its macro-moments and micro universes, but also on a complete cosmos with its rotations and concentric breakdowns where material nature, space and time orbit. Iconographic triangulation in which there is a sort of formal economy, installs a repetition that refers to the observer imaginary, as a reason where recurrence is perceived by a transcendental echo that paralyzes everything.
Additionally, but 5000 feet high, Enrique Ramírez (Santiago, 1979) shows that there is a Walking Man, where walkers do not let mark in their path. “When we walk, cold water froze his feet, salt ate away his nails, sun burn his face,” and he still starts this uncertain and decisive journey between life and death. An obsessive transformation represented in the Uyuni salt flat (Bolivia), and in a man with a carnival devil mask that revives rite and myth dual condition taking over the surreal landscape with that perpetual movement where sky and earth are merged in a short transition. Because of this, outline disappeared making them into magic places where soul of living people and the ones that are not with us walk, recreating an atavistic troupe where people celebrate and cry because they are more alone than ever, but they do not give out and walk steadily in front of inclemency.
Finally, Barbara Palomino (Sao Paulo, 1982) presents the multimedia and resounding installation called A últimabobina de filme super 8 que você filmou, opening an intimate diary transformed into a symbolic chronology full of universal codes and projected from her own image in her house corner, which is her soul. “My father never started to film again and his last film was kept for 25 years.” During this period, he starts to create a project by reflecting about memory, and also about the paradoxical desire of leaving and facing lost or absence with the inevitable oblivion. All plural moments where she puts in situation of flatness, analyzing the emotional dominant and breaking its interiority from a confessional space that rewinds images in order to see us walking backward, making time becomes imaginarily back.
For the same reason, I support what Christine Macel said. She is the artistic director (curator) of the 57th Art International Exhibition of Venice. She states that “art does not have the possibility to change the world, but it is the place to re-imagine it.”