Soy del Sur
My recent and ongoing series Soy del Sur [I am from the South, 2017] examines my own sense of otherness, with respect to my Indigenous ancestry. Rather than attempting to present a stereotyped portrayal of the Indigenous people from Southern Chile and Argentina, Soy del Sur puts forward an individual account of what it means to be an Indigenous woman of bicultural heritage. Having never lived in a Mapuche community, I am considered an outsider by the community. However, when Chileans hear my last name, they consider me Indigenous person and imbuing me with all various preconceptions about my identity. I appropriate images of signifying objects from the Mapuche culture to create narratives that converge in cultural stereotypes, and question the dynamics of power. I conceive identity subjectively, as something that is never complete, always in process, crossed by contradictions, but invariably shaped by both hegemonic paradigms and personal negotiations with culture and heritage. In Soy del Sur, I speak for myself as a woman who lives in a liminal space between identities that are constantly changing.
Gestures (2017) strives to make connections between the body and the sign, the body and the landscape, and the artist and the viewer. The fragmented bodies my collages depict represent the paradoxes of trying to connect the associations and dissociations of those dualities. The medium of collage especially facilitates new associations. I appropriate mass media conventional representations of feminine poses that come from art and design magazines, and then by hand-cutting I recontextualize the original image transforming its meaning. In Gestures, the female subjects convey a gesture or posture that communicates a mode of action or a state of being. The gesture is brought forth by the minimal landscapes in which they are immersed.
Between Subjugation and Defiance
Between Subjugation and Defiance (2016) derives from my interest in the depiction of female stereotypes in mass media imagery and the exploration of feminine identity. Inspired by the work of Hanna Höch, a German Dada artist from the Weimar period, these collages communicate feelings of alienation while critiquing conventional representation of femininity such as beauty and appearance, manners and behavior, and dress codes.
Collage allows the disruption of the body scale, or the recomposition of parts of the body which have been invaded by feelings of objectification. I use images from fashion and lifestyle magazines to appropriate imagery from women’s everyday life. The strenuous process of building the collages encourages self-exploration bringing forth the sense of fragmentation that the body has experienced while embracing or rejecting those conventions. Through body fragmentation, the female body is presented as a place for social confrontation.
The Topographies series (2013-16) explores the contrast and coexistence of nature in the urban landscapes of Hong Kong and San Francisco. These images bring memories of my home country, Chile, where the contrasts between nature and urbanization are also present, and the new and the old sometime coexist in an uneasy truce. As a psychologist in Chile who worked in community development in rural areas, I saw firsthand the destructive impact on communities due to the lack of urban planning and regulations. Similar to Hong Kong my hometown, Concepción, is a port city in the most industrialized region of the country. Rapid development has led to century-old buildings being demolished to make way for haphazard commercial construction without considering the economic, social and cultural needs of the neighborhoods. In contrast, San Francisco reflects the power of civic action and careful planning to preserve the unique architecture and the culture of the city, which are now under threat by a variety of interests.