This interview was also originally in Spanish and published in Metal Magazine’s blog Pull The Metal (they redesigned the site and this got lost, apparently). In 2014, the Barcelona-based Venezuelan artist had just closed her first solo show in Backroom Caracas with some delicate, evocative work that seamlessly combined paper and digital collage in beautiful reflections about digital identity and affect. It’s brief, but I was glad to be able to talk with her about the project.
Valentina, tell me a bit about your formal education background.
I started out studying architecture. Immediately I had problems with exactitude, so in my fear that housing complexes would collapse because of me, I shifted to graphic design. During my career as a designer I have experimented with fashion, art direction, publicity, and visual arts.
I was also instructor at the Department of Audiovisual Arts at LUZ (La Universidad del Zulia) for two years. I have now assimilated the teaching “chip,” and I hope to continue to develop that side of my career. Right now I am studying a Masters in Contemporary Artistic Creation at La Universitat de Barcelona.
What was the premise behind Historial de Navegación [“Browsing History”], your show that just closed in Backroom Caracas? There is a website that complements it too, and I’m curious how they worked together and what the site means to you now that the exhibit is over.
Although the website “closed” with the exhibit, this is an ongoing project; I will undoubtedly continue to develop web-based projects.
Nothing is fixed, everything is at the edges… it’s a little of what Homi Bhabha talks about, how we substitute the word post for beyond. That third space, which is neither the surface of the paper, nor the gallery space, but a virtual one, is an extremely interesting, infinite corridor. And I don’t mean it’s interesting only in terms of how easily it can be accessed or how far it can reach, but in the act of treating the screen like a canvas. With Historial de Navegación (the exhibit and the site) I was aiming to even invert the order of the terms: what is digital somehow returning to an “original” state, and the transformations that happen throughout.
Can you tell me a bit about the materials and techniques you employed to create the images that are on the website?
In Historial de Navegación that was a fundamental issue. The materials began to overlap: old papers, new papers, images stolen from the Internet, magazines, words, old chats and e-mails, pieces of fabric, stains. I was interested in working directly with the scanner, which also forced me to be consequent with the inversion and conversion of drawing, collage, and digital painting practices. Drawing/blurring directly on a screen, then drawing again: printing, printing again, scratching, uploading, then turning it into a .Gif.
Historial de Navegación feels extremely intimate. What does the project say about your personal use of the Internet?
I think it speaks of a kind of rhizomatic process of thought. The way links are created between the materials that “dialog” with each other in a collage… that reminds me of the virtual system: barely any hierarchies, intercommunication… All of that is fascinating. I also think that the overlapping that you see in the papers can be felt in the stories that coexist inside of a chat window, or between two bodies in one bed, or among the scribbles inside a notepad.
These feelings and notions are overwhelming and confounding. It is as though the sensation of information incessantly blinking clouds your mind, but eventually you emerge from that total whiteness feeling more lucid. It is that precise moment of “sense” that I enjoy most in the Internet.
I also enjoy the metaphor of opening and closing links and episodes.
I felt that in the exhibit, as well as the site, the ideas of correspondence and establishment of virtual bonds were very present. Do you find those notions romantic?
“Emotion is liquid”. It boils, but grows cold a few moments later, like Bauman says. That sort of atemporality of the virtual bond makes it fleeting and passionate. Those emotions become gases.
Did you look to any works or artists in particular for this exhibit? Do you feel there is any particular thematic or aesthetic influence at the root of Historial?
I have so many aesthetic influences. Perhaps none is too direct, but I feed from them: Sol LeWitt, Ellsworth Kelly’s flowers, the Memphis Group, the fine line between art and design in Nathalie Du Pasquier. Harrell Fletcher’s projects with Miranda July. So, so many.
Finally, where are you headed now?
I have just arrived in a new town, to a new desk. My monthly project is to buy new sheets from IKEA, listen to lectures and draw in the classroom. In the nearest future, I hope to deepen my research, expand my video practice and seek out interesting collaboration. In more general terms, I am sure that the themes of geolocalization and geographical distance will lead me to a body of work.
More from Valentina in her website. Her newest web-based project is La Improbable Horizontal (“The Unlikely Horizontal Line”). I also collaborated with her (edited) on a video she shot for Helado Negro’s song That Shit Makes Me Sad 🙂