08 Feb Quijota 1st Part – Centro Cultural Matadero
Video produced by Elena Castellanos
16-26 January, 2020 – Centro Cultural Matadero – MADRID
So often, with a mourner and cruel sword on fire, does the winged messengers announce everyday apocalypse.
Sometimes, funny little deities, almost children, are shown in baroque paintings as heralds of the Good News of God Incarnate.
These divine automatons were created before the human being: sexless, with the ambivalence of those things created for the first time. They carry, like every slave, the image of their master and the announcement of their rebellion, properly scheduled.
Their descendants the robots, who appeared under that name in 1921 novel R.U.R, by Karel Capek, aren’t nothing but poor imitations of the first ones.
In the space between them, we found a variety of halfway beings: puppets, marionettes, wax figures, articulated mannequins, mechanical automatons and, with the arrival of mass culture, Frankensteins, Supermen and other fictional freaks so well shredded by Umberto Eco.
All of them are attempting to emulate or replicate the human being, to reach in that creative act, the essence of God.
Isabel Gómez Liebre, Madrid 1961, actress, performer and visual artist, presents to us her project Quijota, this time at the art space Extensión AVAM, Matadero.
Following the line of her previous series Liliput, she brings together myth and literature, with characters who take an initiatory journey… like every hero… in which they leave behind the safety of their known worlds to set off on a voyage towards themselves, from the otherness.
That’s nothing but maturity, and all those who reach it, are heroines.
The journey, in Liliput as well as across the land of La Mancha, is taken by men in literary adventures. Isabel aims for a change in the gender of the main characters, making an exercise both radical and performative, turning her characters into women.
Whereas in Liliput the woman faces a body adjustment and her materiality is at stake, in relation to the societies and cultures that she encounters; in Quijota the trip is to her inside as well as to the outside. It will take her from her beautiful delirium to the final sanity, or maybe not…
These automatons swing in the arms of a fate designed by a creator freed from history. They are machines with a movement code outlined on them, they are gifted by the artist with new life, a new automatism in different media, adapting their appearance to the new reality.
47 plastic and visual pieces, on canvas, aluminum, cardboard or acetate.
The monumental Quijota en Vespa, protected by two guardian angels, has an aura that certifies the extraordinary fact of her miraculous departure from the space of the canvas… It has a virtuous color treatment, which reminds of some madonnas from the Renaissance (in this case surrounded by an atmosphere of magical realism), so she gets linked to a previous series of women’s figures… We can also find some austerity in the catalog of armors that, as a good knight, she must own.
War suits, costumes and scenery, character and shell, they talk to each other. Being already without the other, perfectly recognizable, there is some metonymical relationship between the parts.
Here, flat colors, the illusion of a protective, vegetal, second skin… a rosy glow for everyday battles’ glare…
Ice armors, evanescent armors, that dissolve in atoms and vanish… the inside is gone…
Suits built from those actors who have the best training; who, according to G. Creig’s theory The Superpuppet, would be moved by automatisms… obtaining through them the best representation, so they have overturned bad acting habits.
Quijota is not, or maybe it is, about the search for the essence that will lead us to pure form, an artistic endeavor of permanent invention…
A different media entails a different view: her series of acetates, photographs, which are always a trace, a frozen glare, a collector’s room, a family album, archaeology of the ordinary and the extraordinary… Gutiérrez Solana’s showcase, in which the visitor admires and is admired back by the dummy, contemplated image…
Quijota, more real and therefore with less of a soul (they told us the mask is the true identity), contemplates us.
She appears in various foreshortening, she looks at us from there, making us feel as those fish Cortazar writes about, axolote: they transmute into zoo visitors, in a complex visual Eucharist, like in Alain Tanner’s film Dans la Ville Blanche.
With En la carretera (On the road), a series on cardboard, we seem to find a Quijota translated to the 7th art. Once again, she embodies the gender change in her run away through the cornfield, being the driver with and without a car, being in control and deciding her own tempos and adventures.
And, finally, an extraordinary series of drawings, they try to reach the essence of the character, from an existence between the Baroque and the Renaissance… ballet figures, dissolutions in minimal approaches… maybe a tribute to the Triadic Ballet by Oskar Schelmmer, in both we find “bodies based on the conjunction and reconciliation between what is organic and technical without falling into what is mechanic”… A pluriverse Universe.
Quijota starts her journey, as described by Isabel Gómez Liebre:
“The first chapter of an introspective, experimental, interdisciplinary and multifaceted travel. In future chapters 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th, I will approach other infinite aspects that trigger, as a way of experimentation, visual sensations. Play, transformation, process, challenge.”
Eduardo San Pedro