Alicia Velázquez

Zurich, 2020

Alicia Velázquez’s piece entitled Extension of Self sprawlingly combines performance, sculpture, painting and drawing, and is inhabited by ritualised actions, adding up and multiplying. These are invisible and unconscious practices that the artist seeks to make palpable, visible. The work of art becomes not only a trace of a past and present movement, but above all, a communication with the present world. It is the moment of a movement, captured by the eye of Thilo Hoffmann’s camera, which the reader of this book now makes their own.

In her studio, transformed for the occasion into a huge canvas on the floor, she challenges, and tries to transcend, her body. She leaves it to her body, to her hand, to make the painting, and thus creates new spaces that go beyond the framework of her workplace. With these spaces, whether real or imaginary, present or absent, she establishes a mapping of her emotions, using black ink to weave unpredictable associations: a car accident, a sunset or sunrise, the word banana reflected in an absent mirror that the artist might have held out to the spectator, a spectrum of games and tribal signs between her body and the social body. A liberating hope.

The compassion she expresses in her ritualised stories derives from the hope found in human exchanges, passing from one story to another, from one hand to another and from heart to heart. As a storyteller, a passeuse, she constantly crosses the barriers between past and present, fact and fiction, to activate a living memory and share our life experiences. Her goal is to create a shared experience, to redraw the outlines of a new space comprised of both physical and mental encounters, which generate new forms of thought through their interactions. These thoughts thus become actions visible to all. This artist highlights the need to rethink the question of solidarity and commonality. Thanks to movement, everything is linked and a continuity is created. In this fragmented world devoted to cyberculture, Alicia Velázquez uses her interventions to reflect on a new spatio-temporal form with the spectators and the immediate environment, questioning what has constructed us and what allows us to identify ourselves socially in this encounter with the other, with the social body. Using this arachnid link, she weaves this continuity, this constant, positioned in relation to the world. She is a conveyor, a passeuse, drawing a common thread between the spectators’ stories, which she appropriates for herself. She redraws the “contours” of these stories in images and words. Each word becomes a constellation to be explored ad infinitum, permanently. Like Mallarmé’s inverted free-verse poem “Un coup de dés n’abolira le hasard” (translated into English, A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance [1]), it experiences a new temporality, an infinity, as well as a variable spacing where blanks serve as silences. The images on paper created by the arrangement of the words and lines establish a new sequence and a scansion in relation to the other, and to the cosmos.

For Alicia Velázquez, the observer becomes more active when prospects and hopes are unexpressed or invisible. These hide behind the discontinuities of a narrative “montage” that the unspoken must complete. The way in which the stories are told can be understood through the mystery of the spaces, constituting a visible and invisible combination of texts and images. 

In fact, as Bruno Latour says, “There is no such thing as a common world. It needs to be composed”[2]. The pluralism of cultures, ideologies, opinions, feelings, religions and passions is a new challenge for our globalised world. We live in the same universal house and, if we put aside all divisions, there will be nothing left to reconcile and to find common ground on. The universe is a “plural”. A common world has to be gradually constructed with new values, in the knowledge that most public spheres can disappear at any time. As Latour says, “The public does not exist, but it must be composed”. There is a world, a “plural” to be composed, a common ground to be rethought and put in place from the outset. Between pluralism and normalisation, it is a rather difficult quest and we have to nuance it ad infinitum…

[1] Mallarmé, Stéphane. Collected Poems, Oxford World’s Classics, O.U.P., 2006, translated by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore, pp. 178 – 181.

[2] Latour, Bruno. Il n’y a pas de monde commun : il faut le composer, Multitudes 45, 2011, pp. 38 – 41.