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Critical Practice

Catalina Correa

Catalina Correa is an artist, collaborator and workshop facilitator. Born in Santiago, she lives and works in London (UK) and Chile.

Her practice is concerned with the concepts of territory and sovereignty, both from a political and a personal stance. The experience of inhabiting the Patagonian landscape and its mythologies are embedded in her research.





Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Critical Practice

My practice is informed by feminist theory, postcolonialism and the subject's politics of location. The work that I present here emerges from a continuous process of research that has taken different forms in a constellation of media: photography and collage, ceramics, text, video, installation and drawing. 

For several years, my life and research centred around the isolated, rural landscape, borrowing aesthetics and methodologies from archaeological, anthropological and botanical practices to approach notions of belonging and identity. Recently, motherhood and its poetic relationship with territory has become a vehicle to explore modes of embodied knowledge and problematize the power structures that sustain and contain our bodies.

Following this path, I have come to the idea that a territory in feminine code is the flexibility and the wisdom of our own boundaries. Not the contents but the rhythm with which this membrane is expanded and contracted according to the requirements of the internal and the external. If her borderland becomes static it madden, it dries, it dies. Opposed to the national borders that are reinforced and feared, her boundaries fluctuate and embed in order to survive.


Other White Mixed Background (2021) — HD video, 05:10 min.
Other White Mixed Background (2021) — Series digital collages, variable dimensions.
Other White Mixed Background (2021) — Series digital collages, variable dimensions.
Other White Mixed Background (2021) — Series digital collages, variable dimensions.
Other White Mixed Background (2021) — Series digital collages, variable dimensions.
Other White Mixed Background (2021) — Series digital collages, variable dimensions.
Other White Mixed Background (2021) — Series digital collages, variable dimensions.
Untitled (Balnuaran of Clava), 2020. — Series RISO prints on recycled paper (289 grs.) 29.7 x 42 cms.
Untitled (Balnuaran of Clava), 2020. — Series RISO prints on recycled paper (289 grs.) 29.7 x 42 cms.
Untitled (Balnuaran of Clava), 2020. — Series RISO prints on recycled paper (289 grs.) 29.7 x 42 cms.

Other white mixed background is a video work articulated as a fluid visual essay that critically reflects upon hegemonic, patriarchal histories in Latin-America. By assembling a range of fragmented histories  from oral storytelling, from the unconscious, the landscape experience and my own family archives, her-stories are remembered and preserved, while being retold and transformed as a decolonized gesture towards trans-generational power structures.

This work has been greatly informed  by the writings of Julia Kristeva (“The Powers of horror, An essay on Abjection”, 1980), Rosi Braidotti (“Nomadic Subjects”, 2011) and Lucy Lippard (“Overlay, Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory”, 1983). Also, by “Riddles of the Sphinx” by Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen. 

Other white mixed background's starting point was Marija Gimbutas´ research on Neolithic sites, which she claims were builded from a female-centered perspective: “Old European village sites are not remarkable for their defensive positions but were chosen for their convenient setting, good water and soil, and availability of animal pastures. Hill forts in inaccessible locations are not known to Old Europe, nor are daggers, spears, and halberds.” Gimbutas´ research proposes that “the primordial deity for our Paleolithic and Neolithic ancestors was female, reflecting the sovereignty of motherhood,” and that “the emphasis in these cultures was on technologies that nourished people's lives, in contrast to the androcratic focus on domination.”

Aiming to find new understandings for the traditional definitions of borders, belonging and sovereignty in my own genealogy, I reviewed the maternal figures in my life, as recommended by Virginia Woolf. I interviewed my great aunt, who is a psychoanalyst, and has lived outside of South America for decades. Conducting these interviews with her allowed me to integrate a different and complementary family narrative than the one I grew up with. During the time of these interviews, I was pursuing “alternative” forms of psychotherapy which involved methods like tarot readings, guided and generative meditations, writings and other practices, to unfold different layers of my matrilineal heritage, and unfold our transgenerational joys and traumas.

Combining these experiences I have developed a narrative of embodied speculation, entangling the stories of five generations into my own. The text in the video is spoken as a chorus by my sisters and me. And the images -first tried out as digital collages- come from family archives of my childhood, anatomy magazines, as well as from field recordings on Neolithic archaeological sites (UK) and from wild nature sites (Patagonia).

Medium:

Video, text, RISO prints and digital collages.
Mutable (2021) — Lumigram print in matt photographic paper, 70x95 cms.
Mutable (2021) — Lumigram print in matt photographic paper, 65x95 cms.
Mutable (2021) — Lumigram print in matt photographic paper, 75x95 cms.
Mutable (2021) — GIF animation, digital photography.

One of the most crucial experiences of quarantining has been the relationship with others. Either because we are alone or, on the contrary, for the lack of personal space due to an enforced and extended cohabitation. The frontiers of our subjectivity have become fuzzy.

This project reflects on the writings and art works of creative mothers such as Mary Kelly, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Catherine Opie, as well as Tillie Olsen, Adrienne Rich, Sara Ruddick, among others.

Mutable began with a domestic exercise with laundry clothes done during the first lock down, in April 2020. Organized as a stop motion, the pictures show a steam of garments going through a white blouse. As an organic membrane, it expands and contracts, contains and lets go. A series of analogue prints followed, as an attempt to fixate the transparent, relentless household routine.

Clothes are in permanent flux in the interior of my house. Scattered in the bedrooms, accumulated in the laundry basket, spinning in the washing machine, or waiting to be sun dried, folded and stored. I take care of the clothes in the same way that I take care of my relatives' bodies.

I am interested in exploring the physical and psychological shape of feminine boundaries. In opposition to the fixed and frightening territorial frontiers -which have been historically linked to war- my aim is to open a possibility for intersubjective, everchanging, self-repairing and more plastic borders. 

Medium:

Lumigrams (analogue photography).
Retornar para Revolucionar (2021) — Digital collage made from performance documentation (original photo by Natalia Bustamante).
Retornar para Revolucionar (2021) — Still from video, performance documentation (original video by Natalia Bustamante).

Retornar para revolucionar (“Return to revolve”) is a performance developed in May 2021 in Puerto Cristal, Patagonia, interpreted by Dolores Altamirano, Constanza Pérez y Emilia Costabal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn't able to participate in person during this artist residency, therefore I developed the action in collaboration with the artists on site.

This project is influenced by the figure of silenced women that arise in "Other white mixed background" (2021). Also, it was inspired by “Transformation of silence into language and action” by Audre Lorde (1977), and by the fortuitous encounter with “Every inch a man” (1916) by Miguel de Unamuno, book that I found in the ground of an abandoned house in Puerto Cristal, during one of my previous visits to the site. The practice of psychomagic, as developed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, has also shaped this action.

For the performance to be implemented in this specific site was crucial: the ruins of a mining settlement from the early 20th century where the mythology of progress and exploitation was fully deployed. Men had to do the hard work in precarious -an often fatal- conditions, while women did not exist at all in the public space. Furthermore, it was considered a bad presage to have them close to the mine. In the intimacy of their homes, on the other hand, they used to be exposed to the violence of a relationship in which they were silent servants of their men.

Puerto Cristal is at present an Historic Monument under restoration. So now that the narrative of this place is being revisited, my aim through this performance is to problematize concepts like patrimony, sovereignty and the figure of the hero: three women stand firmly in the exterior having a voice and a place. While breathing deeply, they repeat calmly that they have come back to revolve the meanings of that territory. The act of speaking to the air into a vast natural and inhabited space, may operate as a psychomagic action of healing.


Medium:

Performance.
Untitled (2021) — Still from video, virtual/IRL performance made by using a Motion Capture suit.

A motion capture suit (or mocap suit) records the real-life movements of a human body and sends it to a computer program where it is applied to a 3D character. The 3D character will then move exactly how the movements were captured from the suit. But when you look for characters to embody those movements, the gender biases that we have in our real life society are greatly replicated into the virtual characters: men fight and do sports, while women dance or get mad. 

As an ongoing virtual/IRL performance and video piece, this work explores identity as a vulnerable, cyclical and resilient construct, and plays in the overlay of our physical and virtual selfood. The action of getting dressed and undressed of the suit makes the technology fail, and exposes its dependence on the real body.

This project, which was especially inspired by “The Posthuman” (Rosi Braidotti, 2013) and “Stay with the trouble” (Donna Haraway, 2016), aims to enhance the underlying condition of our species that has become extremely clear during the last year. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us symbolically together under a community based in fragility: the fragility of our human and bio-technologically mediated bodies inhabiting a fragile, damaged planet.

To be presented in real life at Cromwell Place, 22 – 25 July, as part of the Diasporas Now platform.

Medium:

VR performance.