December 12, 2017
Thursday, October 29, 2015

BA artists-in-residence offer glimpse of works in progress

One of the 15 participants in the URRA artist’ residency.
One of the 15 participants in the URRA artist’ residency.
One of the 15 participants in the URRA artist’ residency.
By Silvia Rottenberg
For The Herald
Tomorrow afternoon, the artists invited to the 6th URRA residency will open the doors to their studio. The 15 artists — six from Argentina and others from Wales, Colombia, Holland, Norway, Chile, Switzerland, the US, Ecuador and Israel — have been working in San Telmo for a month now. They started their residency at the beginning of this month with a presentation at PROA and a show at Galeria Infinito Arte, for which today is the last day to visit.

The artists, of different ages and experience, have used this opportunity to reflect upon their work, speed up their pace, develop new methods, experiment and/or continue on the route they were already heading to. Working together with others “gives you a new dimension,” says artist Isidora Correa from Chile, “it influences you, strengthens you in your own practice and stimulates you to look different.” She shares her studio with Gabriel Johann Kvendseth from Norway, who showed up to collect found items, just like her. Together they wandered the streets of Buenos Aires, which was a first for the Norwegian artist: "I had never been to Latin America — and aside from some tools, I didn't take anything with me from my own collection of found objects, which I have been gathering for more than 10 years now. I had to start anew and see what came to me here.”

Gabriel combines items, such as shoelaces, pieces of wood, coins, buttons and feathers and sees a new potential in them, rearranging them and collaging them into a new imaginative object. Even though they walked around together, they were both looking for different items, having distinct artistic languages. Isidora was particularly taken with remnants of buildings found plainly in the urban landscape. “As if the mask of the city has fallen and is just lying around.”

Perhaps the found object — or the idea of recycling found material — is a trend. Perhaps the San Telmo building itself — a former residence for the elderly, where the studios are located — triggered it, but more artists use found materials. Israeli artist Roy Efrat has created an installation with video projections of small drawings, which are animated and tell the story of Everyman, the 15th century morality play. Red and orange beams, reminiscent of a fire, are projected on wood found in the house, as if turning into burning logs. Here the interaction within the group has led to the participation of the Welsh artist present in BA, Catrin Webster, who reads out the play. Starting from Webster's first name, Efrat searched for St Catherine’s among the churches of South Buenos Aires to use as a starting point for the drawings. Catrin herself paints in a more abstract way, and has used the vast space of the studio to make large canvases all along the walls.

Diego Mendoza from Colombia also made use of the large space available, continuing his experimentation with graphite as paint, which, other than drawing, provides reliefs to the imaginary composition he creates of objects from our landscape. Gabriela Schevach, a homegrown porteña, was specifically grateful for the time: “I work here with so much more intensity. In one month, I could produce as much as in a year.” In layering photographs that deal with the language of photography, she has seized the opportunity to try out new things. “I painted over one of the photographs — erasing it if you will, that is something I had never done before.”

Others were also grateful for the time the residency provides, and used it for making new contacts, such as Ruth Viegener, or for personal reflection. Dutch artist David Bade, who runs an art institute on the island of Curacao, usually works in a very interactive manner, but was glad to have this month “to be more introspective.” Instead of collaborating with the fruit vendors, like he did at the Havana Biennale, or teaching the youngsters in Curacao, he has worked on smaller drawings: critical, funny and colourful. “But,” he warns with a smile, “I may be back — I really like Argentina!”

It looks like this will become a possibility, as URRA is opening a permanent space in Tigre at the beginning of next year. “This doesn't mean this October residency will disappear,” explains initiator and director Melina Berkenwald, “it only opens new and exciting possibilities for longer-term plans and residencies.”


When & where
The exhibit at Galeria del Infinito Arte is open until today at 7pm. The open studios are tomorrow, from 5pm to 11pm Casa Zur (Av. Brasil 675). Free admission.

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