“Clemencia Echeverri: liminal”. Curatorial text
Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia (MAMU), Banco de la República, Bogotá.
Del 21 de septiembre al 9 de diciembre, 2019.
Disturbance and confusion are two of the emotions that the viewer experiences when visiting Clemencia Echeverri's video installations; not only when confronting them for the first time but on every encounter. The images and sounds in Echeverri's art are intense, excessive, and fragmentary. They surround and challenge the spectator in dark spaces, forcing him/her to stand or to wander around the exhibition space, acting, at the same time, as an active meeting point of the stimuli they broadcast. The works are not linear, they have no beginning or end. Even though they appeal insistently to emotions, they are not sensational, nor do they have a single meaning or a definite message.
In seeking to make sense of them, these feelings of distress and bewilderment are joined by others of frustration and, paradoxically, relief. Frustration at the lack of resolution or ‘logical’ connections among the audiovisual stimuli. Relief because the viewer is not forced to see, feel, or experience the facts that s/he senses, intuits, and anticipates because the artist never presents them explicitly nor suggests links between the components leading to a single conclusion. In fact, the works remain on the edge, on a limit or border that situates the spectator on a threshold, a point of transition (even literally, between light and shadow), by confronting not the resolution but the possibility: what could have occurred or might occur. Echeverri's works do not focus on what happens, but on the very possibility that something might have happened or could eventually happen. They constitute a changing, relative, indeterminate point, partly due to the strategies used by the artist, and partly because each visitor must define his/her own level of tolerance: how much is she willing to feel, imagine, ask, or consider as a possible resolution. How to overcome the tension experienced, opening up to a new kind of sensitivity and understanding, or on the contrary, choosing to retreat, and not perceive or know.
In an interview in 2015, Echeverri corroborates this assumption when answering a question about her process of developing works in relation to the Colombian context:
Where does the investigative and creative work leading to your work with violent contexts begin?
...When faced with a specific event, a space for dialogue, questioning, and tension opens up, especially when dealing with violence; responses to multiple states are triggered, which don’t allow for calm, inattention, or indifference.
Dealing with violent contexts has meant creating my own time, a life without respite that has always been riddled with frustration, disenchantment, claim, and waiting. Being sensitive to difficult and violent events possibly coincides with sensations that resonate in one another, that had already penetrated an inherited past; the image already present in childhood, the return of a familiar sound [sic].
The task requires detonating what has been experienced and crossing boundaries using symbolic resources to make contact with others. That is, to give power to incoherent, invisible states, revelatory acts, and collective gestures, through procedures found in the form, the rhythm of events, in the syntax of the materials that define a state of art.
Like the spectators, the artist in her creative process is thus situated at a point where diverse experiences converge: her feelings about what happens, the search for meaning, the confrontation with the visual and auditory material she collects, and a ‘final’ edited proposal, that supposes "transcending boundaries by means of symbolic resources to make contact with others". This proposal is, on the one hand, the expression and reflection of the way the artist feels and perceives her environment and, on the other, an artistic and ethical construction, given the type of issues and problems it poses.
The exhibition titled "Clemencia Echeverri: Liminal" includes a selection of videos and video installations made between 1998 and 2017: Apetitos de Familia (Family Appetites), De Doble filo (Double-edged), Treno, Versión libre (Voluntary Testimony), Juegos de Herencia (Heritage Games), Sacrificio (Sacrifice), Supervivencias (Survivals), Nóctulo, Sin Cielo (Skyless), Subterra and Río por Asalto (River by Assault). During this period, the visual language and the sound used by the artist changed significantly. As a result, the relationship with the viewer changed, becoming more complex.
María Margarita Malagón-Kurka
Assembly plans - Miguel Urrutia Art Museum
Opening event of the Liminal retrospective