My artistic practice, which includes videos, installations and drawings, shows a constant concern about the subject and subjectivity of the images that we are usually exposed to
An important part of my research focuses on the approach and the relationship to human groups at specific sites, not exclusively artistic. In them I explore different ways to represent the idea of community.
My interest lies in grasping the resources of each place to try or create links that generate new ways of perceiving the environment. For this purpose I use devices that I myself have invented, due to the observation of the context and the interaction with people. Through this staging, I search as a result, the interaction of the artistic work with life.
To fulfill my projects, I usually start from a research. In this research, I am less interested in the real facts, that in stories and interconnections arising from breakage and random actions. My purpose is to pay special attention to the connections that occur outside the framework established to meditate on historical facts, to upgrade their meanings, and in some other cases I take present conflicts to expand the views.
Paula Massarutti (La Plata Argentina, 1976)
In 1999 she graduated in College of Fine Arts of La Plata National University, Argentina. Among 1998/2006 she served as professor at the School of Fine Arts at the U.N.L.P. In 2008 she received a Fellowship in Fine Arts from the National Found for the Arts. Between 2009/10 was a fellow of the Centre for Artistic Research and in 2014 received the National Arts Fellowship from the National Found for the Arts. She made several Artistic Residences such as Space G Lab in Art and Society (2008, Chile); Kiosk (2009, Bolivia); CASTAGNINO-MACRO Museum Program (2009, San Javier); Lugar a Dudas (2011, Colombia), and the Art and Industry Ctibor Space Program (2013/14, Argentina) Foundation. Between 2000/13 he made several solo exhibitions such as MAS REALITY [EXERCISES ABOUT THE LIE] Space G (2008 Valparaiso); EXCUSE Gallery Kiosk (2009, Santa Cruz de la Sierra); WELL SEEN, Emilio Pettoruti Museum (2009, La Plata); WE ARE IMAGE, Metronome Gallery (2013, Buenos Aires). Since 1997 participates in numerous group exhibitions in Argentina and abroad. Among the highlights are, INSTANT VIDEO MARSEILLE (2007, France); BASEMENTS AND DEPOSITS OF THE INTANGIBLE OFFICE (2011, Colombia) and SURFACE OF CONSPIRACY (2011, Spain). Throughout her career she won several awards including 1st Prize Florencio Molina Campos (2010), 1st Prize Young Art Sculpture and Spatial Experiences (2005), 1st Prize Biennial Young Artist of the Province of Buenos Aires (2004), Mention Union Latina Prize for Young Artists (2003), 2nd Prize COAP (1999). Among 2009/2012 she joined to the Collective Artists called Cooperative Guatemalteca.
Lives and works in La Plata and Buenos Aires.
Drawing (Graphite on paper)
“Paula Massarutti delves into the testing of social bonds that implied the emergence of collective strategies to respond the abandonment during the flood. The forms of solidarity and energetic presence of the other, in rescue, shelter and hospitality actions. Starting from a dialogue with the neighbors that live in the adjoining blocks to her house, she creates a fictional space that asks: What are we willing to compromise with the other? Her project imagines the possibility of elaborating an act of agreement or contract between neighbors, which materializes the commitment to mutual aid in case a new catastrophe occurs. Tensioning the boundaries between fiction and the real, the project transits the space between the spontaneous and anonymous solidarity and the will to build a sustained commitment.”
WE ARE IMAGE (2013)
Intervention in the Metronomo Gallery. North Passage Obelisk in Buenos Aires.
Fluorescent tubes, cellophane and greaseproof paper
WHY SKY IS NOT YELLOW? (2012)
Performance and installation on showcase and sidewalk.
Séverine Hubard, Alexandra McCormick and Paula Massarutti
THIS IS NOT A HOTEL (2011)
Intervention with signs in the San Antonio neighborhood of Cali (Colombia).
This work arose, when we asked us about the place us inhabit during our stay, an old house in the neighborhood of San Antonio. After several days we decided to articulate our space as: ¨This is not a hotel¨. Then, we made and placed a styrofoam sign in front of the house with that phrase. From that very moment, we began to receive visits and comments from the residents of the neighborhood: - and if this is not a hotel, then what is it?
In the following weeks we decided to open the house to the street and to propose neighbors to think about the definition of their own homes. After several talks, with some of them, we devised together definitions for their houses, and we built new signs installed on their facades. Thus we established a new relationship between private and public space in this old neighborhood of Cali.
Project developed by Paula Massarutti and Alexandra McCormick
DEPOSITS AND BASEMENT OF THE INTANGIBLE ASSETS OFFICE (2011)
(Detail of installation and video)
El Parqueadero (Bogotá).
In collaboration by Alexandra McCormick
“Deposits and basements of the Office of Intangible Heritage” is a project in collaboration with The Foundation of Friends of Intangible Heritage, is intended as a forum for exchange between artists and the general public who is interested in participating, view and create relationships between museums and life”.
THE WISH (2011)
(Graphite on paper)
Oversized, (1:6) of a certificate of baptism apocryphal, from the documentation file kept for the christening ceremony that took place on April 3, 2011, at the Cristo Rey Church in the city of La Plata, (Argentina). In this act the artist became godmother to daughter’s her best friend.
TO HERE (2010)
Sculpture (Styrofoam, polyester resin and synthetic paint).
This is a material modification, to lodge the loss of significance, turning the art object into a subject of curiosity and intrigue that com pulses to put a limit to space of the unknown.
This Artwork has been performed based on the scale of the artist's body in a position of supplication.
[Las Precolombinas] Pre- Columbian images known as the suplicantes, are archaeological pieces from the Argentine northwest that belong to the Low Formative and High Formative period [III to VII DC aprox.]. They are made in stone and show a curious combination of human and zoomorphic elements. In them, the repetition of a kneeling or genuflecting position or attitude is shown with arms and hands, placed on the back of the head [being the reason of their denomination].
The most relevant element in these pieces is their characteristic of exempt object; it is not possible to find in them, an implicit or explicit functionality, although there is an attempt to link them with magic-religious aspects of the Condorhuasi culture. As it is impossible to determine, the origin of its function, all interpretation is a hypothesis. We may say that these objects are a cultural surplus of an unknown process, it is a signal, with an unknown significance, but as it is still in use, we may call them a luxury.
Installation: styrofoam, polyester resin, synthetic paint and trestles.
This piece is part of a project that began by identifying which devices produce communication inside a computer. These tiny components (like resistors, capacitors, etc.) carry out technical operations (they store and regulate the electric flow in a circuit) to transmit digital signals that will be interpreted as language. This work creates an inert sculpted object made with expanded polystyrene and polyester resin and preserves the appearance of the original object, that is, the original electronic device. This new piece abandons its original function to represent that relationship (the possibility of communication), in short, turning its use into a sign.
8 AND A HALF (2009)
Jogging in San Javier was undoubtedly the meeting place for her and me. While we ran, we talked about the experience and the problem of the registration of our previous works (Bien visto [Well Seen] and La oficina de patrimonio intangible [The Office of Intangible Property]). Part of our immaterial work necessarily had to be reconstructed in order to be conveyed. Our problem was figuring out how to take “the experience” to other people. We thought of the material aspect, the fact that if one were to run all one’s life, that action would become evident in one’s body. Somehow, we got close to what Father Florian Paucke did: “Discover a truth that was only known to us”. We recreated the image of jogging, but to do it, we wouldn’t have to move. We thought of the color of our clothes, the lighting of the scene, the surroundings, the balance we had to keep, of how we would touch the ground, convey force, sculpt it, and of the deceitfulness of the action.
8 y medio (8 and a Half) began with the need to communicate an experience: remaining in a concrete space and encountering the other. Exhibition room 9 is permeable; through several holes, it’s connected with the 8th floor where the administration of the MACRO Museum is located. Taking advantage of those holes in the architecture, we built walls that went down: a vertical continuity from the exhibition space in the 9th floor to the 8th floor, creating an area of encounter that we called 8 and a Half. The work was a new experience between the spectator’s gaze and the museum personnel engaged in their daily tasks. To do this, the public was invited to consult two texts plotted on the wall: “All you wanted to know about contemporary art but were afraid to ask” and “Tell us a story”.
Everyday-life relationships are concentrated in the space, modifying it, and at the same time, activating our present.
WELL SEEN (2009)
This work, produced in the Pettoruti Museum, proposed a meta-image of another image. For two weeks, the museum staff went on about their regular work in their workplace (the museum), with the only difference that they did it within the exhibition space, the room called microespacio (microspace), a window display that could be seen from outside the building. It was a functional and fictional office especially assembled for this experience. Therefore, two proposals were put forth: “act as yourself” and “fare finta” (act as if).
Through this action, the exhibition space, normally designed to create a metaphor, instead created a fiction/real.
THE GIFT (2009)
It’s the compilation of knowledge about the mystery/object, which was carried away from its original place as if it were a strange body. Like a virus, neither good nor bad, this object is a body that has travelled in space and time (from Argentina to Bolivia) and has behaved differently and acquired different contents according to the reality and emotions of the individuals who received and sheltered them.
In the time of the internet, when we perceive the events taking place in other latitudes as our own, The Gift is an excuse to preserve the right to be astonished.
MORE REALITY [exercises about lying] (2008)
I created More Reality during my residency at Arte y Sociedad Espacio G (Space G Art and Society) in Valparaíso, Chile.
It’s an art research and a project that fictionalized the narrations of the neighbours and the production of scenes/montages as a result. MAS REALIDAD is not a confrontation between representation and object, or between fiction and truth, but rather the establishment of a system to recognize and verify the ways in which we perceive and build reality.
ART NOW (2008)
Art Now is a three-part editorial intervention on the art system.
The first part is an Object-book made by superimposing the erasure of another book, whose importance lies in having been created as a medium to circulate and record contemporary artworks and artists (Art Now Book, Taschen’s 25th Anniversary Edition).
The second part consists of torn pages that have been reconverted and framed to stress the cliché action of a privileged objectification and delimitation.
The third part is a flyer-message in which the book design is reproduced as a parody of the desire to be included in the recorded system.
Vision of art
A self-portrait of Buenos Aires province
My first working activity was to visit the Museum. This institution had been closed for two years to be restored. In spite of it, the building still has leaking problems and its storeroom has been dismantled although it is the place where 4000 works, which belong to the cultural patrimony of the province, should be preserved.
The Microspace hall is a small cubicle with a glass window which can be seen from the entrance of the Museum. This entrance also has glass doors, so the hall can be seen from the outside. I immediately thought of a habitat-fishbowl. Later on, I was told that in public offices those places with glass paneled walls where the boss’s office is are called fishbowls. There the boss keeps locked all the necessary elements for the work and all the documents to which the rest of the employees should have no access. I also visited the other premises of the Museum. I spent several days living together with all the people in the office, in the halls as if I were a member of the staff. In this way I could get acquainted with the employees, learn about their activities, their ranks, their timetables, etc. I realized that there was very little space for the enormous quantity of employees (approximately 50), lack of material resources, of organization in the fulfilling of the specific administrative and technical tasks of the Museum but at the same time a labour negotiation accepted by all of them.
I suggested performing a fictional-functional office inside the exhibition hall. The purpose of this was to present a mega-image of another image, the subjects (the Museum employees) doing their daily work, in their own space (the Museum) but with an unique variation: they would do it within the expositive space (window connected to the outside of the building). In consequence a lay-out game would be set: “perform yourself” and “fare finta” (perform as if).The expositive space, commonly designed to produce a metaphor, through this procedure, would produce a fiction that is reality. This performance would propose the existance of a “realityfiction”, such as Josefina Ludmer suggests when she defines the “postautonomas” scriptures. These scriptures do not admit literary readings; this means that it is not known or matter whether they are or not literature. It does not matter or it is not known whether they are reality or fiction. They place themselves locally, in an everyday reality to produce present and this is precisely its sense. (2)
Everything started with the meetings, first with the Museum Director, who authorized me to invite the staff to participate in Bien Visto and later on with the employees. In the Institution, my presence aroused questions and certain uncomforted. The Specific Social Group of the Museum employees had to face the necessity to decide what to do. It is important to point out that this group is very different in its structure: some of them have Art University Degrees, others are administrative staff, some are Union Leaders, and the rest have very different backgrounds. To participate or not in this art work, forced them to confront their own office mates. Some of them felt the necessity to justify themselves, so some mornings they spontaneously gathered in an office on the first floor. Some questions were presented that kept the Institution, the participants and the context in tension. Among other things, they meditated: if what they were invited to do was a work of art, if they were going to be manipulated by me, which was the role of the Museum, how is Art defined. They also remarked that this work was also going to make evident that some employees did not honor the labour timetable (informality that is quite frequent), because in Bien Visto they had to commit themselves to fulfill the working hours. A group with a more positive approach, knowing that there is an ongoing prejudice in the society that public servants “do nothing”, are incompetent and do not have the necessary capacity to occupy the positions they have, began to think that the fact that they would be exposed to the spectators, in a working role, might be a way to demystify this massive belief. Others disagreed with the idea of doing the performance, so they manipulated the information saying that the employees who would not take part in it, would be questioned by the authority of the Museum Director. This caused the urge on (phone calls out of labour environment) those employees who supported me in this performance.
Finally 14 employees of the whole Museum confirmed their participation. There were among them several from the Educational Area, the people in charge of the Microspace hall (who with perseverance make the Museum function in spite of its precarious condition), one employee from the conservation-restoration area (after asking her boss, who did not agree with the idea of the experience at all), some administrative employees and one person who works in the Museum reception.
One of them told me: “- After all the debate we have had we are no longer the same”. Pressed to take a position meant: know what the other thought, who the other was. All this caused a redefinition of the relationship among them.
The identities of the employees involved have been omitted to preserve their jobs.
(almost) BIEN VISTO
Days before the opening, when the setting was already going on, the head of the technical area demanded from me an explanation concerning my work. Among other not very solid considerations; he told me that the objects placed in the hall damaged the image of the Museum. He recounted explicitly to the fixed bicycle, a picture of the Province of Buenos Aires that was hung upside down (homage to Torres García and García Uriburu), a virgin that I found on the window of an office on the first floor and in general, the precarious conditions of the materials used. I once learnt that a work of art is not in the object itself but in the head of each person who takes pleasure in considering it. I saw no damage except for that which had been produced in his own head. Marc Augé speaks about the image and he says about it that “it exercises an influence and possesses a power that exceeds far more the objective information that it provides”...Is there anything more realistic and in a sense more informative about life in the USA that a good American series? (3) Later as if I were in my own argentine sitcom, I was summoned to the director’s office and I had my last meeting with the trio constituted by the Museum Director, the Technical Area Director and the person uncharged of the hall. There I went on giving good reasons to do Bien Visto and after a while they gave me an intelligent verdict: “To censor the work would, by no means, be convenient”.
THE OFFICE (Inside-outside)
Marc Augé mentions the word anthropologic place a concrete and symbolic construction of a space that might not by itself account for the vicissitudes and contradictions of the social life, but to which refer all those to whom a place is assigned no matter how modest or humble it might be (4). And he goes on “Of course the intellectual status of the anthropologic place is ambiguous. It is no other than the idea, partially materialized, that have those who dwell it, of it relation with its territory, its fellow men and with others” (5).
The placed chosen, the assembled office in the Microspace hall, had two functions, on one hand its articulation with the rest of the Cultural Institute being part of the informatics net and on the other hand a fictional function. Some elements induce the pleasure, the game in the discipline of the work. Among them a fixed-bicycle to do gym in front of the glass, some tins just in the case water might start to filter, a manual juice jug, some plastic plants and mudded ceramic floor, a clock without numbers, some wooden folders. Each performance was free to use them as they pleased. All the objects displayed started to have sense and function during the 15 days that the performance lasted. The participants redefined the areas, the use of them and the comfort of the new office. Inside were the employees/performers outside the spectators/supervisors of the work. Some played the role of baffling the spectator; others used the performance to the rein vindicate themselves as workers. The audience formed by a group of employees and visitors of the museum such as art students, educational science students, retired people and possibility people in general, in their role of supervisors invited to register, had the of revenge, judge and exercise the power they had as tax payers.
One day, because there was a political meeting leaded by the province Governor, about a hundred people approached the museum. They did not belong to the art environment. They were part of the presentation of digitalization of the cultural patrimony programmer. We were inside Bien Visto when one of the employees, in a very angry way because of the amount of people present who wanted to be part of the political act, said: –“We are the truth, they are the fiction”, while he pointed at them from the inside of the glass. The immediateness of the acts, the unexpected performances inserted people in real time. There was no control over the acts within the work, in consequence the authenticity was questioned and stressed.
Claire Bishop calls Delegated Performance (6) this type of work where real people constitute the work of art. In this case it is not a luxury game, because the salaries of the performers were paid by the Institution. This Museum has no money to organize exhibitions. It can hardly pay the employees salaries and a few other expenses. The existing economical resources were well used, the employees accepted, by their free will, to be fiction/work in Bien Visto. In this way the economic system itself was intervened.
This art work proposed to fictionalize in a Critical way the problem of the relationship among subjects in their labour environment, the game and relations of power. It troubled a specific space to reflect on itself. Once more quoting Augé “The very own of the symbolic universes is to constitute for men who have received it as a heritage, a means to recognize rather than to know: universe where everything is a sign, groups of codes than some know how to use and they possess the key to it, but everybody admits its existence, totalities partially fictitious but effective, cosmologies that could be thought they have been conceived to be the pleasures of the ethnologists” (7).
Several questions arouse: ¿Is play to be someone else, do like others do to be oneself? ¿Does this produce recognition effects?
Through Bien Visto I suggested a group of people to place themselves as objects of the reflexive operation. Perform as “yourself” and “as if” approach them to a self portrait not as the self indulgement of “being in the window” but as an artistic personal experience and the capacity to see the existing conflict in the working environment.
(2) Ludmer, Josefina, (comp.) (2007). Postautonomas literatures Literaturas. October 8, 2007.http://cuadernosdelengua.blogspot.com/2007/10/literaturas-postautonomas-por-josefina.html
(3) (4) (5) (7) Augé Marc, (1992) No-Site. Anonymous spaces. Barcelona: Gedisa. (6) Bishop Claire, (2009) Conference: Delegated Performance in Contemporary Art. Research Art Center (CIA), Buenos Aires.
Extract from report of scholarship, whose implementation had the contribution of National Group Projects Grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Marcel Duchamp
- Alberto Greco
- Federico Peralta Ramos
- Maurizio Cattelan
- Francis Allys
- Gabriel Orozco
- Víctor Grippo
- Roberto Jacoby
- Fernanda Laguna