AND YOU, WHAT'S YOUR PRACTICE LIKE?
It was halfway through my current studies that I began to think in terms of practice. What do you do? How do you work? Until then, I had only thought in terms of interests, and how I got closer to them was a matter of circumstances and knocking on doors.
Retrospectively, I realise that for a long time my practice consisted of accessing different spheres of art. To think about it would first and foremost require me to reflect on processes of legitimisation, working environments, and education in this field. I will not do so here, but I'd say that before the MA in Live Art and Performance Studies (LAPS), my artistic practice was confined to what I thought of as "the margins". It came down to being an audience, taking workshops, and assisting in the production of different projects. In other words: finding information, buying tickets, paying course fees, attending public talks and events, writing and translating texts, making phone calls, moving furniture, cleaning, guiding people, and participating in collaborative projects, often without a clear position.
I’ve kept doing most of these things since I moved to Helsinki. What has shifted is (i) acknowledging practice as a thing, and (ii) finding myself building a solo practice as an artist. In complete honesty, I think I’ve advanced very little on this front: If you can choose what to do, what will you do? Are you free at all?
As I keep working towards naming and discovering what I enjoy doing, I would also like to take this exposition as an opportunity to reflect on my practice during my time at LAPS.
HOW TO MAKE UP ONE'S MIND
We had three mandatory performances throughout our first year of studies. I will quickly go over them to remember which strategies I used to make decisions at the time.
Güateque, renamed Follow the plants!, took place in August 2017 during a study trip to the Research Pavillion in Venice. I was concerned about what I was contributing to by being there at that time. Being a tourist was for me the most significant performance of all, and I kept asking myself what can I see in such a short time? I began to pre-fabricate situations for myself, hoping that something unexpected would happen.
Follow the plants! and resolving by imitation: While in Venice, all I did was intrinsically linked to my life in Madrid. Walking, drawing, weeds, and food initially relate to the practice or interests of colleagues and friends, rather than my own. My actions intended to re-enact experiences that were very dear to me: (i) for the pleasure of it, and (ii) to test where they'd lead me in a different place and with other people.
Call me Mermaid, if you like was conceived in the framework of Co | Lapse, a joint event with fellow LAPSes at Vapaan Taiteen Tila in November 2017. I thought again: What am I supposed to do? We’d been in school for a couple of months, and I suddenly felt I had to pretend I knew. But I didn’t. All I could come up with were performance clichés I’d likely fail to pull out. I chose to take advantage of the two “spare weeks” we had to prepare the performance to play with time and get out of my way.
Call me Mermaid and resolving by deviation: I think I was afraid of “performing” in front of an audience, and I instinctively slipped away to ideate a situation where I could find what I needed back then—time, getting to know Helsinki, and hopefully people as well.
No olvida el corazón cuando se ha dado was performed in the garden of the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah on May 12, 2018, during the symposium Recall|Reflect|Return. Once again we had the chance to travel, and the obligation to perform. Going to Palestine and doing a piece there was a challenge; first, because no matter how much we prepared beforehand the complexity of the situation there exceeded my understanding, and second because we would only discover the performance spaces on site. Eventually, I decided to focus on belonging, an issue that resonates with me on a personal level.
No olvida el corazón and resolving by association: The title of the piece is a verse by Mexican poet Rubén Bonifaz Nuño. It wasn't the first time literature or poetry provided me with a starting point for a performance. On this occasion, I took it out of context and used it to explore my own geography and my experiences in Latin America in particular.
Had we not had an obligation to perform, I probably wouldn't have performed at all. These experiences were valuable in so far they pushed me to produce work, often under pressure, and try out things even if I didn't feel the need to. It was like jumping in at the deep end and, for somebody who didn't have a practice in performance art, this was necessary. However, I jumped from one task to another without doing much follow-up. The choices I made for each performance were related to my life and my needs at the time. Looking back, imitation, deviation, and association seem like resourceful strategies, but they weren't necessarily conscious, and I would like to make artistic decisions in a different way than just ticking the box and moving on to the next deadline. My situation today is different compared to my first year at LAPS: I am more focused, I have a more defined practice and research interest, and I can afford to take the time to have longer research processes. The thesis will be the occasion—and the challenge—to take things further, to sharpen what it is that I do and how do I do it.