It is so respectable to wake up and worry about “what I should wear” as reflecting on whether a sculpture has the proper shape, material and scale. I dare say that sometimes it’s the same exercise. This statement, which I rescued from a lecture given by Ana Laura Aláez in Arteleku, gives us the key to understanding the start of her career as artist and her evolution.
For her, self-expression (first in the dressing room) was a need to counteract the monotonous landscape of Bilbao in which it grew, made up of industrial gray and work uniform. The fantasy against functionality, extravagance against uniformity, principles that infected her vision of art, because in this field also had to fight against another burden, the imperative to make social art in the face of a conflictive climate (terrorism, oppression of the working class …)
Thus the creation was for Aláez doubly emancipating, from the veto to the imagination imposed on the working class and from the taboo of the personal expression inculcated to socially committed artists.
On these silences she conducted her work: on the omission of feminine pleasure, on hedonism, on the trivialities that make us. The woman’s body, for a long time confiscated as a territory of pain and stain, should be recovered as a vital organ, experimental place, pierced by pleasures, mediator of fictions from which to reconstruct her identity.
She learned from the dandyism that the trivial hides an unfathomable nature, that every surface is a symbol (Oscar Wilde), be it a mirrored dressing table, an orange peel or a makeup face, surfaces that camouflage more than they show, misleading and playful.
Aláez introduced into the world of art cosmetics, platform shoes, beauty salons, disco halls …, making us enter into illusory but valuable worlds because them forge our personality when we are adolescents. The imposture, the artifice, as a vital breath. Becoming herself model, clothing designer, night diva …
From photographic immediacy and performance to sculpture and installation, from ephemeral or extra-artistic materials has lately been opted for classical, noble materials, returning in some way to her origins. But the use of bronze is not at odds with her search of “personal archeology” that has characterized her work: body and experience, although now between both fits the memory, letting rest the history itself.
The sculptural object (from a leather jacket to a tunnel of light) has always been for her a metonymic extension of the body, organ, sensation, interface, prosthesis or antenna.
Trajectory (like Gold and Faceted), which these days can be seen in Es Baluard (within her proposal Trans-Statue), integrates despite its formal simplicity multiple resonances: the aluminum sheets insinuate erogenous folds (veiled homage to the chewing gum vaginas with which Hannah Wilke photographed herself), an image that overlaps with that of Rembrandt’s hung flesh (Aláez sculpture hangs from the ceiling through bars and pulleys). Appropriating of the trans-statue concept with which Oteiza alluded to the will to transcend matter to express energy, Ana Laura’s Trajectory directly sculpts the vital force, the erotic energy slit open and at the same time emptied of itself, abstract, stylized to the minimum expression. The emptying that is filled, the surface that is peeled like an orange.
Trans-estàtua, Ana Laura Aláez
Es Baluard, Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma
Curator: Nekane Aramburu
Until 8th January 2017