About a week ago, visitors to Parque de La Memoria noticed a new object – a wooden shack. The consensus was out on whether it was a new monument to the victims of state terrorism or a new low in Porteño real estate trends. The compact house turned out to be nothing less than Fernando Rubio’s project, The time among us (El tiempo entre nosotros).
For five days, it served as a home for a lone man, who spent his time there sharing his thoughts, sentiments and memories with anyone who wandered up to the small wooden structure. He eats, listens to the radio, and reads poetry like there is nobody in the room. He writes seemingly unrelated words in chalk on the walls that end up taking the shape of his personal life story. In a beautiful twist his story becomes a mirror of sorts in that the audience recognizes themselves in the words of this strange man because he speaks of sensations instead of specific events. How liberating running on grass with your bare feet is; or watching the sun drown in river water; or just the simple act of doing nothing.
From time to time the existential fellow seems to notice people around: he would then hand a piece paper with a handwritten word or phrase to a confused participant making them read his personal notes. El tiempo entre nosotros, the second part of a trilogy begins with Cuando éramos chicos (When we were children) and ends with Y todo lo demás (And everything else). The idea of the performance is turning an everyday habit into a work of art as a way of observing memories and thoughts like under a microscope and reflect on them, to build an experience from the raw material memories provide us with. Quoting another artist, Ilya Kabakov, Fernando Rubio says, ‘The soul is a dwelling. By remembering houses and rooms, we learn to look inside ourselves’.
Another project that is also hosted by Parque de La Memoria is called Volátil Felicidad: Immaterial accounts of the 90s. It reflects upon a different aspect of memory: it doesn’t contemplate but actively recalls the memories from the Argentine golden 90s when the dollar rate was one-to-one. Volatile Happiness is not a performance but a retrospective exhibition about performances that manifest the spirit of the time. The curator, Rodrigo Alonso, made a selection of photo and video-documentation in its diversity of genres and topics. Fabiana Barreda discusses the ecological issues while Zoe de Rienzo draws attention to objectification of women. There are dark physiological performances in the traditions of Viennese Actionism by Marcello Mercado and endearing little wedding experiments of Adriana Bianchi. The show presents mostly works of marginal artists, according to the curator’s words, focuses on the ‘providing the memory of some of the actions that had passed unnoticed due to their ephemeral character but which deserve to be revisited under the light historical perspective can provide today’.
Finally, the third performance of the week by Gabriel Baggio examines the nature of artistic technics comparing past and present, the art of handicraft and contemporary art tendencies. Should a contemporary artist have practical skills? If handicraft can be the form of expression appreciated by art-community? Baggio doesn’t dare answer this questions, he lets the audience decide by observing his performance Flor tallada en madera. For two hours the artist accompanied and guided by master carver tries to learn all the tools to groove the flower from a wooden brick. To be completely honest, the spectacle itself can excite only very peculiar group of people; however while observing you slowly fall into some kind of trance questioning where is the border between art and craft actually is and what really lies in the nature of artistic expression.
The next (forth) week of Biennale, will be punctuated with such names as Sophie Calle, a French artist who is going to present her film ‘No sex Last Night’ along with a Q and A of sorts with the audience on Monday in Malba, and Mariana Obersztern with her performance ‘El Gran Ensayo’.