Blue. Orange. Yellow. Line Scapes and Landscape.
by Salvador Alanis
In a recent interview, Galia Eibenschutz recounts the challenges she faced during her training as an artist. She belongs to an unusual generation of Mexican artists who emerged in the 90s, such as Damián Ortega, Teresa Margolles or Yoshua Okón, who reformed the way of doing contemporary art in their country and hold high international relevance. Galia lived and faced a group of artists for whom the visual arts, nourished by conceptual lines and theories, occupied a primary place among artistic expressions. From a young age, she practiced ballet and contemporary dance, which would put her at a crossroads where she would have to decide between her exceptional ability for drawing and visual arts or to continue to nurture her passion for dance. Galia found her place in performance, developing personal work and collaborating on pieces by other artists such as Carlos Amorales, and assisting performance artist Joan Jonas. It was not until the discovery of the work of the Senegalese artist Germaine Acogny, and her entry into the Ecole Des Sables program in Senegal that Galia Eibenschutz would find a way through the use of her body and dance to integrate a unique transdisciplinary work in the expression of contemporary art.
The three pieces that Galia Eibenschutz presents at her exhibition Blue. Orange. Yellow. Line Scapes and Landscape, at YYZ, are a sample of the way Galia uses the body as a crossing point between different disciplines, in which video and drawing combine with performance and dance.
In the first piece, Cuadros de Colores, Galia uses the theatrical black box to make coloured squares slide and appear, moving in and out of the frame, forming different arrangements of color and composition. We discovered that these squares are driven by a dancer who coasts over the black background, sliding on the screen, seen from a top shot. The squares and the man both turn, and from a different view, we notice the man who moves and rearranges the pictures on the floor, continually modifying the composition. The body of the man dancing and gliding along with the colours then becomes another element of the structure. The dancer rotates along with the squares that float choreographically in the frame. This sequence results in a video piece in which the different components, including the man’s body, are integrated into an eminently pictorial result, but composed using transdisciplinary resources. Galia worked this piece with contemporary Mexican composer Carlos Iturralde, in the same way as it would work in a dance work. However, more than a dance, Cuadros de Colores is visual experimentation with color, shapes, and sound, in search of an arrangement in the picture. The quick displacement of the different elements of the piece is a pictorial iteration. Therefore, the performance works as one of the many aspects of the final piece, which is the video. Galia learns from the work of the New York iconic performance artist Joan Jonas, with whom she worked as an assistant. For Joan Jonas, the video is beyond documentation support of the performance pieces; videos result in the final pieces of work.
From this perspective, Galia designs her performances so that her body not only executes an action that communicates specific values, but in a way that the body has sculptural value. The features of the wardrobe integrate the pictorial effect. The casual and deceptively simple photographic composition documents a progression of sketches. In Galia’s work, the body has a formal role, and its movement dialogues with space, with the time of action and with composition. However, the use of the body has a subversive tone when integrating, combining, and relating it to the space in which it operates. The body articulates volumes, environments, the lines, and the passage of events that happen before the camera’s eye, almost as an abstract element that governs the interaction of the rest of the picture. The presence and movement of the body become an expression that joins different spaces to transform them. In her pieces, we see different processes of arrangement, combinations, and ways of understanding the space and interpreting architecture, according to the position of the body. It works like an anthropometry of abstract expression. These processes change over time and are mobile, even at times when the body appears to remain still.
This idea is evident in the two videos titled Observatorio. In these videos, with the camera fixed, Galia presents the curved edge of construction against the blue sky. In this video diptych, the artist appears climbing behind this construction, sits, reclines, and practices different positions to achieve a range of changing plastic results. Change, posture, and passage of time modify space, manifested both in the minimal variations in the body position and in the change in the location of the sun, projected on the wall. The moving body ceases to be her body to become just another object, in a way that integrates with other forms. The different moments happen as a study of the static and the movement. We can say that the videos at Observatorio are pieces developed as moving sculptures with varying levels of flexibility and speed: the motionlessness of the wall, the slow transformation of the sky and light, the arrangement of the body in different positions. They are a kind of study of deconstruction of movement and its speed, in a similar way to the chronophotography studies made in the early 20th century by Ètienne-Jules Marey or Eadweard Muybridge. Galia’s image creates tension by subtly modifying the incidence of the body on a curved form that is accentuated by the change of the sunlight. Similar to Cuadros de Colores, Galia’s body tries positions to experiment with shape and space, but in this case, with a closer interval iteration, almost infinitesimal. The violent changes that the dancer’s movement in Cuadros de Colores, are much slower in Observatorio, making us see the brief variations with a lower speed, and an almost futuristic tone. Observatorio plays with the language of the video by emphasizing the temporality of the forms but returning to the immobility that somehow reminds us of its intention of pictorial and visual composition.
It’s important to mention that in these pieces, as in the rest of Galia Eibenschutz’s work, the progression of the body shows us a way of reflecting the creative process of a visual artist. The body movements in Galia’s work, despite her apparent spontaneity, reflect a systematic search that crystallizes a visual will. In Galia’s performance, the body does not set new limits nor walks through extremes or danger; the bodies in her work integrates and harmonizes the space, and then destroy it to rebuild an alternative territory with a different arrangement of colours, shapes, and tensions. In this way, the performance, body, and its movements oppose its ephemeral nature to translate into a kinetic work that questions the fixity and values of temporal qualities in form. The action that progressively evolves in her work simulates a deceleration of compositional elements and their multiple permutations. Videos capture sequences of decisions to arrive at a final picture. It’s the process that we witness in this depiction of choices.
Galia Eibenschutz reflects on the cinematic decomposing of the mutable, developing an inmost subdivision of space, like Achille’s turtle, on which thought and creative impulse projects to the infinity.
SALVADOR ALANIS is the Executive Director of the Institute for Creative Exchange – Americas (ICE). He completed an artist in residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and has received numerous awards from the National Fund for the Arts in Mexico. Salvador has also published six literary works, and his visual media arts have been displayed in several solo and group exhibitions in Canada and Latin America.
GALIA EIBENSCHUTZ is a dance and multimedia artist from Mexico City whose work has developed through both movement and visual art techniques. Her work registers the passing of time as well as the scenic presence of the human body and its projection within architectural spaces.
Her work has also been displayed as part of several collective exhibitions at Modern Art Museum (Mexico City); Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca, MUCA Roma and MUCA CU (Mexico, City); Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes (Mexico, City); Witte de Witt (Rotterdam), Blain|Southern (London branch); Mexican Cultural Center (Paris); Saidye Bronfman Center for the Arts (Montreal) and in Stedelijke Museum Voor Actuele Kunst Gante (Belgium).
Solo exhibitions and perfomances include Moverse para nombrar in 2019 at Carrillo Gill Art Museum (Mexico, City); Estudios del espacio dentro del espacio, de otros estudios, de otros espacios in 2013 Museo Tamayo (Mexico City); Fold. Unfold. Trace. Track. Landscape at The Cedar Cultural Center (Minneapolis).