In a car, one can fit the territory

12 Feb 2019, 4:09 pm

by Alexia Tala


The observation of territory has been configuring a long and dense chapter in the history of images and representations of Latin America. Whether from the scientific or poetic perspective, territory has been the target of not only foreign, but also of local and intrinsic speculations, thus gaining importance in building the imaginary and identity of the continent.

In contemporary art, one can find a wide range of artists who read and combine the abstract gaze of the geographic space with a contemplative sensitivity regarding places and landscapes, proving that such dispositifs of the gaze are often separated only on the surface. Such is the case of the work of María Edwards, Chilean artist whose oeuvre is motivated by the assimilation of shapes and the creation of relations between things, making use of experience and orders of the universe as guiding principles. Her work is fundamentally recreational: it involves the creation of installations as major constellations of found objects, which she organizes according to mental principles or translates in accordance with the records of her trajectories and discoveries.

The importance of organizing objects in one way or another is the possibility of playing with ever subtle relations that can be established between them, interactions that allow us to observe differently the thinking of the whole. The space is abstracted and reduced to relations in the constellations or micro-universes of Edwards, inspired by matrixes like physics and astronomy. From these points of departure, she generates compositions of high formal rigor, aesthetic purity, and material control.

Her works – arising from territorial explorations in both urban centers and rural areas, usually made by bike or car, and during which she accumulates objects – are not “end results,” since they can be modified, transformed, or even expanded (exhibited several times, they are disassembled to be later reassembled again). The operation of the trajectory and the collection activity performed during the process, as well as its recreation and/or translation, are matters that permeate her work. She unfolds the documentary resource of the experience of passing through the spaces, later giving it shape through the objects.

Yet, this is also possible in a two-dimensional format. Some of her works consist of constellations inscribed on blackboard surfaces. Framed only by their borders, several notes made in chalk are superposed to fill the black spaces; lines and drawings connect themselves without bringing forth significant interruptions, thus adding up to the sensation of accumulating ideas, a metaphor to how the thinking works kaleidoscopically.

Through these interactions, a new space opens itself; a third, non-representable one that has to do with the void between things and that, just as the pure potency of relations, is the focus of her installations: to point and to underline such void with thoughtfully elaborated propositions of spatial organization. This is why her installations often provide a feeling of fragility. Such sensations lead us to that void in the form of air. Objects then become pauses of the same infinite trajectory, points within an expanding structure.

The pieces, objects, fragments and drawings on sheets, but also the blackboards and the notes, compensate and sustain each other in this suspension, hence evidencing, as much as the works themselves, this structure that cannot precisely situate its beginning or its end. The artist’s studio becomes a major scenery where we can read her presence, on the one hand, as yet another element or connecting point between the imaginary lines we trace and, on the other, as the innuendo of a nearly performative dimension – at this point, it is quite possible that her background in cinema studies might have helped in cleverly managing such audiovisual resources.

At SP-Arte, the artist will present a brand-new project consisting of the materialization of imaginary travels that combine the tradition of explorers from centuries ago with the way of exploring the world nowadays.



Alexia Tala
Independent curator and artistic director of Plataforma Atacama, Alexia Tala is a specialized researcher in Latin American art. Recently, she has been dedicating herself to the general curatorship of 2020 Bienal de Arte Paiz, in Guatemala, and to the publication of a monographic book on the Chilean artist Lotty Rosenfeld. Worked as co-curator of the 8th Mercosul Biennial – Essays on Geopoetics, of the 4th Trienal Poligráfica de San Juan de Puerto Rico, and of the 20 Bienal de Arte Paiz in Guatemala. As a writer, she also collaborates with art publications in Latin America and the United Kingdom, in addition to authoring the book Installations and Experimental Printmaking (UK, 2009). She is the head of the Solo section of the next SP-Arte.
Solo Section
Created in 2014, the Solo Section is dedicated to exhibiting curatorial projects focused on a single artist. More than fifty national and international galleries have participated in it over the past five years, among which are Blank (South Africa), Casas Riegner (Colombia), Elba Benítez (Spain), Fragment (Russia), Nara Roesler (Brazil), Richard Saltoun (England), and Ruth Benzacar (Argentina). Represented by Galería Patricia Ready, María Edwards was selected to compose the “Expedições imaginárias, medições do invisível” [Imaginary Expeditions, Measurements of the Invisible] branch of the Solo Section of the next edition of SP-Arte. The 15th edition of the event will take place from April 3rd to 7th at the Bienal Pavilion (Ibirapuera Park), in São Paulo.

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