March 9, 2021

The body, a plastic and poetic support | Culture

The body, a plastic and poetic support | Culture


"We were doing a work that was almost intuitive, very fluid, very pure, we considered the projects and we developed them without further ado, because that was what we naturally wanted to do, now, seeing them 40 years later, from maturity, everything acquires a deeper meaning. It is an extraordinary reunion, "says María Luisa González Nan (Caracas, 1956) after touring the halls of the old Cartuja de Santa María de las Cuevas de Sevilla that houses the first exhibition in Spain of the work he developed together with Jennifer Hackshaw Yeni (Caracas, 1948) when they were Yeni and Nan. The Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art (CAAC) opened last Thursday Yeni and Nan. Duality, 1977-1986, a retrospective that covers all the production of this team that revolutionized the plastic scene of Venezuela in the 70s through its daring proposals through the land art, the video installation, the body art, the performance, photography, drawing and writing.

Yeni and Nan, a couple in life and in art since they met at the Cristóbal Rojas School of Art in Caracas, worked as a team between 1977 and 1986 and became a benchmark in the art of action in their country, jumping into the international scene thanks to its participation in 1981 in the São Paulo Biennial and, a year later, in the Paris Biennale. On both occasions they represented their country with the performance Integrations in water, in which they staged a birth in which they were reborn. "They are both inside a big bag of water, the amniotic fluid, and they are born from a common birth, that rebirth is their way of expressing that they are not willing to assume the traditional roles assigned to women," she explained. Alicia Murría, curator of the exhibition, which brings together about 60 works – most are series – and can be seen at the CAAC until June 9.

NAN before the work 'Birth II (Nan)', 1977, in the CAAC.
NAN before the work 'Birth II (Nan)', 1977, in the CAAC.

The rescue of the work of the artists, promoted by the Venezuelan gallery owner Henrique Faria in 2005 in his space in Caracas -although he has currently moved his gallery to New York and Buenos Aires- has been produced in several exhibitions, but none as ambitious as the exhibition that is presented in Seville and that includes the realization, 33 years after the team was dissolved, of a new performance dedicated to the fire that Yeni and Nan made this Thursday in the garden of one of the old cells of the Carthusian monks and in which a burning thread gathered them again. "The piece will be recorded on video and will be part of the exhibition in which the other elements are already present: water, earth and air," adds Murría. Yeni and Nan have also participated in the great collective Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985 together Lygia Clark, Ana Mendieta Y Marta Minujín, among other. The show was inaugurated in 2017 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and, afterwards, it was shown at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo.

"We decided to close one cycle and open another and choose fire because it is an element of purification, transmutation and healing," says Nan, who lives in Caracas and produces a work inspired by the ecology and preservation of the planet that she signs with the name of Nan. González "Life is giving us this gift in these moments, that's why we decided to close the cycle with a work on fire, it was the element that we needed to complete the cycle and it could not be otherwise," says Yeni, who since 2003 he lives in Salamanca, where he has continued working, first in collaboration with the Venezuelan sculptor, draftsman and philosopher Andrés Paradas and, starting in 2006, alone with the project Woman. "It is a very broad work in which I am gathering many testimonies from people who answer a question: Why does women have more resistance than men?" Yeni adds and his own answer is: "Because God made us stronger Externally we look weaker, but internally we are very strong. "

Yeni before the work 'Birth I (Yeni)', of 1977, in the CAAC.
Yeni before the work 'Birth I (Yeni)', of 1977, in the CAAC.

And strong have proven to be with projects like Araya, carried out in 1984 in the homonymous salt mine in the province of Sucre (Venezuela), in which they made a series of photographs and videos that reproduce, as Symbolism of crystallization-Araya, a kind of alchemical ritual. "It's a strenuous job, a real endurance performance, in which Yeni and Nan take the body to the limit in very harsh conditions of extreme temperatures, naked and surrounded by salt. They were visiting the salt mines for a whole year, that's why the photographs have such a different light and their bodies become the continuation of the lines ", clarifies Alicia Murría.

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