New Viewings #2
Curated by Barbara Thumm
Maria José Arjona uses her work to connect the physicality of simple materials to our sense of theatrical time. The result is an overstretching; the staged happenings lose their theatrical economy and eventfulness. The complexity and multifaceted aspects of her work make it difficult to precisely account for the elements that it holds, thus elevating each one to the function of messengers and oracles.
In New Viewings, a spherical metal construction is reminiscent of a bird nest, a tumble weed – a structure of organic origins. While abstract, it calls to mind Arjona’s works that depict birds, portraits of indigenous people and fantastical beings half human, half bird. It is tangled, globular and yet, in the digital space, perfectly stable; A solid construct.
It unravels another kind of storytelling, an art that is affective, intangible, spiritual, animal – and intrinsically political.
Narratives are often woven into the Colombian-born artist’s work, including a staged performance in 2016 in the Galerie Barbara Thumm. Here, she smoked cigars – a reference to a ritual she learned from a Shaman she encountered in the Colombian mountains – and performs a transformation into a being connected with dozens of bird species embodied in a faceless head. For New Viewings, the orb appears to be a vessel – again a void open for interpretation.
Maria José Arjona
Maria José Arjona, *1973 in Bogotá, Colombia,
lives and works in Bogotá
Her body of work is divided into single pieces and performance cycles which operate in sycronicity within the chronological timeline; simultaneously, the performance cycles, create a diverging path where the artist compiles different works to understand the meaning of specific concepts and their effects on the body.
Both (concepts and effects) unfold into dynamics where the presence of the artist functions outside the boundaries of identity. Arjona’s work does not respond to or denounces specific events, the performances their selves, are transformed into questions or bridges uniting distant points of diverse conversations. Her main objective then, is to become a transition, a connecting entity operating as medium of visual communication and energy exchange.