New York-based gallery Proxyco presents Where Land and Sea Melt into Sky, an exhibition of works by artists Johanna Unzueta (Chile, 1974) and Felipe Mujica (Chile, 1974). The exhibition foregrounds the notion of the artwork as a product of labor, pointing at process, craft work, and collaboration as significant elements of their artistic creation. Working together but maintaining separate practices, the artists have influenced each other for more than 20 years through the exchange of ideas, techniques, and methods.
In the work of Johanna Unzueta, labor is presented as an intrinsic and manifest component of the objects she creates. Working in drawing, sculpture, and textiles, her relation to crafts and manual skills is not only part of the process of production, but also a recognizable element in the final pieces. Both through the stitches that keep her felt sculptures together or the perforations that accentuate the colored lines in her drawings, a process of comprehensive labor is revealed by repetition, constancy, and detail. Moreover, installed as free-standing sculptural pieces –revisiting Lina Bo Bardi’s famous display solution for Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP)- her drawings have a phenomenological aspect that prompts the viewer to walk around and get closer to them. Within this accessibility to details, labor is indicated by the traditional techniques that build the history of her materials.
For Felipe Mujica, labor takes the form of collaboration in the production of a series of curtains inspired by his sketches. Even though his designs depart from geometry and a set of formal rules, by working together with fabricators within their own communities, production becomes an open-ended process based on exchange, participation, and collective decision-making. For the works in this exhibition, Mujica worked with a mural advertising painter and seamstress from the Dominican Republic and a couple of Wixáritari (Huichol) artisans in Zacatecas, Mexico. His practice, then, is informed by other kinds of expertise and specific knowledge of handmade work, providing his pieces with a human element that is emphasized through choice, error, and chance.
In Where Land and Sea Melt into Sky, Felipe’s curtains and Johanna’s drawings shape space, or function as open spatial elements in the gallery’s architecture, whereby the visitor/viewer/actor moves through space, causing the curtains to move, or actually manipulating them. The curtains act as flexible frames for events of collective participation and circulation, open to a certain indeterminacy. This way, the exhibition itself becomes a collaborative and open-ended process of labor.
JOHANNA UNZUETA & FELIPE MUJICA: WHERE LAND AND SEA MELT INTO SKY
Proxyco Gallery, 168 Suffolk St, New York, NY
Nov. 23, 2019 – Jan. 19, 2020