Coreografías de sal
Faena Art Center
20.09.19 | 22.09.19
Osías Yanov (Buenos Aires, 1980) was the first Argentine artist commissioned by the Faena Art Center to produce a solo project for its Sala Molinos. The artist presented an immersive and participative installation in which a series of performances and workshops took place simultaneously over the course of three days. In Coreografías de sal (Salt Choreographies) curated by Zoe Lukov, Yanov covered the venue’s iconic white marble floor with nine and a half tons of coarse sea salt, creating a landscape and tracing a territory from the center outward. Only a narrow margin near the walls was not covered in salt, a perimeter on which viewers could circulate and observe the show in the monumental hall.
Salt is used to preserve food and to melt ice, but also to sterilize land after a battle. In the occult sciences, it is an offering to the spirits. “In the Old Testament,” Lukov explains, “salt meant sacrifice; it was a symbol of our covenant with God.” The installation formulated a space to reflect on “the fictional and the real, and the space between them,” explains Faena.
The origin of salt, like the figure of the mermaid, is maritime. Amidst the grains of salt in the gallery lay a hybrid skeleton, part human and part fish. The installation took shape around that figure—“the bone remains of a mermaid [supposedly] found on the banks of the Río de la Plata”—in an operation that placed a mythic character “in a context of deposit and discovery,” explains Yanov. Other objects in the installation made reference to archeological remains and to things that mix the tide. The curator explains that “a transmutation ensues and hidden remains are revealed”: an elevator door incrusted on the salt floor, for instance, rose up, a row of metal spoons stuck together at the top. At other end of the gallery, two also metallic helmets envisioned as a means of telepathic interchange suggested the communication between whales and dolphins. Those sculptures rising up out of the white and soluble stage turned the space into what the show’s press packet calls “a new territory of bodily transmutation” in which hybrid forms take shape as fantasy and possibility. “The mermaid acts as a sort of space of maximum potential that insists not on ‘one or the other,’ but on the fertile terrain between them. The mermaid does not change form or undergo metamorphosis: she exists in a static and boundless intermediate state,” Lukov explains. By exploring these processes of hybridization, the project interrogates “mestizaje in Latin America, queer theory, and the politics of the trans body, as well as the notion of the digital avatar and the future of bodies in artificial intelligence,” explains Faena Art Center.
Yanov, along with a group of performers, developed a method that consisted of coming up with often abstract drawings on the basis of ideas and readings and then tracing them on the salt surface. Those lines in the sand shaped a sort of map that was then displaced onto the bodies in a passage that yielded the movements in the performatic actions (in the show, they were pre-rehearsed). The wardrobe, designed for the occasion by Ignacio D´Amore, expanded the movements beyond the possibilities of the human body through orifices and elastic fabrics. A soundtrack created by Yanov in collaboration with visual artist Marcelo Pombo combined musical rhythms with animal howls in a sound landscape that wavered between the natural and the artificial, the recognizable and the indecipherable, the social and the guttural. The white venue’s lights would veer to red or blue periodically, changing the color of everything visible and producing a brief interstice on the level of sensation, as if at that instant reality and the known interrupted one another.
Yanov invited the public to participate in the exhibition project with workshops that could be observed from the edges of the gallery, thus complicating and hybridizing the performatic installation device. Participants in the workshops could experience the work method firsthand by “being part of this re-imagination of a future and the possibilities of the body that inhabits it” thus enabling the artist to blur traditional staging formats.
Content produced by arteBA. Annual Report on contemporary Argentine art.