by Shraddha NairNov 08, 2021
The fragmented thoughts, broken images, and disjointed words, if brought together, could draw a sense of meaning, despite the arbitrary nature of their expression when held exclusively. The incoherency that leads up to the formation of a whole is a manifestation of a multidirectional dialogue, only to emphasise kaleidoscopic reality. Navigating similar terrain is the art practice of Spanish contemporary artist, Julia Llerena. The nuanced understanding of the discipline of archaeology and found objects finds a place in her works to visually translate the creative thought. The material reality of the objects opens the possibility of giving way to ideas and thought for which an easy reference point may not be swiftly available. It is not an “epistemological search” for meaning, as Llerena would like to mention, but the objects are the rich repository of meanings awaited to be unravelled and explored by the viewer.
The constellation of the found objects – glass, iron metal, stone - in the installation The word, except one, follows the artistic quest to question the singular authority of the language to promulgate unidimensional ideas of meaning. Building upon the theories on the body as an archive, promoted by the philosophers such as Michel Foucault and Julietta Singh, Llerena overviews the audience as a living manifestation of archive and memory. Hard to achieve the state of amnesia, as Llerena would like to believe and practice, the installation is a “tangible” representation of a language i.e., is an embodiment of multiple signs and meanings.
In an interview with STIR, Llerena expounds on her notion of archive and objects, “I store matter that surrounds me and after a process of observation, I convert it into different archives in which I bring a new meaning to these objects. I carry out archaeological preservation of the present. I am interested in the fragmentary, the rupture, the emptiness, the rust, the fragile, the nostalgic of old objects.... In my artistic processes, I relate scientific data, with history, with literature, with poetry, with the lives of others and with my own. There are many layers and readings in my pieces that are built over time and remain open to the viewer.”
Taking due cognizance of the noise that laces every day life instead of the semblance of the tranquillity that occupies sheltered life, is the exhibit The Event of Moon Disaster. Llerena once again brings together the damaged pieces of the objects to highlight the planetary threads of connection with the installation Atmosphere, a part of this exhibit. A collection of broken mirrors that forms this installation reflects a myriad of images. The symbolic narration of the diversity is a means to dent the formal structure of language. Expanding the language of her works around a similar conceptual idea is Llerena’s series of sculptures, Fragile. Broken pieces of porcelain unevenly pasted on a vase made of glass once more affirm the intimacy of meaning arising from its cracks.
Llerena step by step explains her art of making a variety of installations and sculptures, “I organise the elements in my sculptures and installations according to archives created from a process of research and classification. At first, they are just piled up matter. Their arrangement responds to create systems that tell me where they should be placed in space through established coordinates, although intuition also plays a very important role. Sometimes they are texts of words, others respond to sound frequencies, others to places and landscapes.”
The installation works such as Carbon and Stampede bring to the fore the repercussion of rupture once the natural orders are subjected to human disturbance. The advent of technology inevitably pushed the case of disarrangement. Llerena mentions, “Technology is very present in our lives, it is so integrated that we are not aware of the use we make of it daily for almost any action. In my artistic processes, it is a mechanism that serves to relate and put different subjects in dialogue with each other. Everything is connected and nothing is exclusive. Art is made up of a multitude of layers.”
Explicitly visible in her works is Llerena’s insistence on expanding the scope of her works by not confining their meaning. For the art is indeed a valuable system of communicating thoughts and expression, but she affirms, “I do not look for a closed or unique meaning.” The interactive objects as part of the display openly invite the viewers to live their experience in an effort to construct their meaning, which in a way paves the way for the artist to achieve the complete relationship with the works. As a coda, Llerena does not sound reluctant to assert, “I seek to move an intimate and close emotion from the inside out in the viewer, an emotion similar to the one I experienced when developing the piece, that invisible bond that traps.”