Possessing Nature, the project of Tania Candiani and Luis Felipe Ortega for the Mexican Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale juxtaposes Mexico and Venice as “amphibious cities.” This same condition distinguishes one from the other: while one embraces the sea, the other is dried out and its lakes are exhausted under the imprint of colonial sovereignty.
The Mexican Pavilion’s curatorial concept arose from a clear idea: to recover the value of the trace and the cartographic line to create the possibility of shifting and juxtaposing specific realities resulting from the exercise of sovereign powercity of canals, city of drains.
A trace was drawn across the locations of the former Mexican Pavilions, a route traversing the city through its alleyways and canals. To define the course and sense of the trace we located the places that have hosted the Mexican Pavilion since 2007. The result of the mapping exercise was more than intriguing. Topographically, it makes visible a journey that originates in two palaces, traveling to a church to eventually end at the Sale d’Armi.
Everything leads to the most violent technology of control instituted by colonial sovereignty: the drainage. Right there, with moist eyes, the greatest of our modern ghosts began to raise, that which at the slightest movement of buried water cyclically awakens the political obstinacy that ultimately imposes frivolous hydraulic infrastructure projects —let’s bury water further, deeper. The depth must reflect the stature of our scale. Only then, we can conceive that drainage deserves monuments.
The work seeks to point out the unpredictability and impersonality of a natural disequilibrium circumstance in which technology tries to pretentiously dominate and possess nature but ends up as a flawed, simple and useless machinery, ironically transformed in its own impediment. In the globalized world and its consensual politics, science is satisfied studying reality as it is, or thinks it could be, ‘engineers create the world that has never been’.
Possessing Nature persistently points out the perversity of the collecting conqueror, the despotism of the ‘already invisible sovereign’ that plays the part of natural philosopher and the noble man whose must precious gift is a piece of the city stuck in his cabinet. The technological solution, or rather its remedies, is conditioned to be eternally ephemeral, hence the modern comfort has always been the monumental spectrality or the rhetoric of condemnation.
With these ideas in mind, Tania Candiani and Luis Felipe Ortega, two Mexican artists with a strong presence in the international contemporary art circuit, conceptualized and materialized “a single work signed by two.”
Tania Candiani‘s oeuvre upholds her aesthetic research regarding narrative, language, sound artifacts and more recently, the phonic power of voice and the sound of foreign languages. Luis Felipe Ortega working with moving image and the reflection of time within it, initiates an intensive search towards the language of matter, the meaning of “journey”, the sculptural condition of emptiness and the tension of the space.
The artists’ piece for the pavilion, is an infrastructure work; a hydraulic project of large scale that digs and suctions, and that follows a trajectory to violently liberate, the liquid mass that both cities, in different ways, contain.
Tania Candiani (1974, Mexico City) is a multimedia artist whose practice explore the intersections among language systems — phonic, graphic, linguistic, symbolic, technological.
Her works demonstrate nostalgia for the obsolete, and the intention to make discursive contents explicit within symbols, artifacts and textual materials. Thus, through the exploration of elements such as: sound, words, diagrams or machines, the artist recreates unique translations that elaborate on the possibilities of meaning and expression.
Luis Felipe Ortega (1966, Mexico City)is an heterogeneous artist. From his first inquiries in video during the late eighties, the artist has sustained a serious investigation on the medium, first to record actions in public spaces but eventually directly investigating the medium’s language, utilizing increasingly complex mechanisms to affect the time of the image and its inherent spatial strategies. As an artist that looks for journeys, for the sculptural condition of landscape, silence and emptiness function as resources to rethink the contemporary subject.
- Luis Felipe Ortega, Karla Jasso and Tania Candiani. Photo by Daniel Betanzos/Excélsior
- Tania Candiani and Luis Felipe Ortega, Possessing Nature, 2015