Thu 8 June – Fri 14 July, 2017. Barcelona
The Argentinian artist Mercedes Azpilicueta presents the fifth iteration of On Affection, a group exhibition extended in time in the gallery’s space in L´Hospitalet over the period of one season. A series of individual presentations, this project focuses on performative practices that emphasize bodily experience and its ability to affect and be affected. The participating artists are: Mercedes Azpilicueta, Fermin Jimenez Landa, Benoît Maire, Jacopo Miliani, Bruce Nauman, Christodoulos Panayiotou and Cally Spooner.
What we call performance these days is not the same as it was in its beginning. The practice has gone through many changes across the years while the supremacy of the object has been questioned. What hasn´t changed through the past years is the affective potential of performative practices upon audiences. Affection is the process whereby affect – in the Deleuzian sense – is transmitted between bodies and there is no secure distinction between the ‘individual’ and the ‘environment’. In short, Affect cannot be fully realised in language but only through the body grammar.
The practice of Mercedes Azpilicueta emphasizes the ambiguity of a personal and unrestrained subjectivity, which is revealed through experimentation with the body and the affective quality of language. Deploying a variety of media – including dance (choreography) and sound (spoken word and singing) – she presents on this occasion a performative installation that also comprises videos and notations. This project unfolds from an investigation into the Spinozean notion of mind and body. The works take this as a historical starting point while at the same time considering it from a contemporary perspective, addressing the complex political dimension of female desire: what does a female body mean today beyond its reification and reproductive function? And what are the affective qualities that unite voice and body?
In a performative installation designed specifically, the piece unfolds a choreography of gestures and a script, interpreted by the artist and a professional dancer, that is composed of fragments of poetry, rhythmic sequences and de-constructed words. Various other elements encompass the space such as a sound piece with clips of humorous exchanges that bursts intermittently onto the scene, inviting the viewer to interact and dissolving the actor-audience boundary. The choreographed visual axes and movements use a loose methodology, bringing contingency and giving way to a game of improvisation, play and associations.
Alongside the installation, a group of drawings made with thread on linen and silk delicately trace the memory of the live work. On the other hand, two videos give an account of other ways of registering the performance. Beso, besito (2017) is a video of found-footage that serves as the starting point of this series by showing a group of people dancing pleasantly in unison. Untitled (2017) is a video that presents moments of intimacy and separation between two bodies in movement. For Azpilicueta, these micro encounters, when bodies touch each other, when they look at each other, when they stare into space, are extrasensory and intuitive ways of perceiving and understanding the other.
Mercedes Azpilicueta was born in La Plata, Argentina in 1981; she lives and works between Rotterdam and Milan.
With special thanks to the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam