reviews/ essays

Xosé M. Buxán Bran, From so much spinning I also became dizzy
Sometimes the air of museums may become excessively clean because there is a great deal of preserved, encapsulated and aseptic atmosphere in museums. I think: what do museums smell of? What do galleries and arts centres smell of? They doubtlessly have many colourless, odourless and insipid spaces; there they are, those white, neutral, closed, rational volumes, kept away from any visual noise, homogonously lit, with humidity-control ... Oh! They look like bunkers in which to neutralise reality, in which to obviate the real meaning of things in order to construct another parallel, different even impossible world. For this reason, when we come out of a museum we get the impression of once again crossing the red line of reality, like when we come out of the dark room of a cinema. Ah! Reality, so contradictory, so delightful and so repugnant, so salvational and so cruel. But this is, indeed, our contradiction between the spirit and the flesh, between faith and reason, between the high and wise thoughts and the passing events and issues of daily life.
And I think of all this when I look at the series of photographs by Ana Pérez-Quiroga that she has entitled From so much spinning I became dizzy (2002); I think about these dual contradictions and, primarily, in terms of reality and the immediate, I am struck by the image of the pleasure of breathing fresh, pure air, in a dance of the body and mind between the sky and the green of the grass; I see myself stretched out in the sun, on the sands of some beach, squinting at the sky. In fact, this is surely one of the most acknowledged images in the memory of many of us when we see this work by Pérez-Quiroga: yes, stretched out on the towel on the sand or strolling on the beach when an airplane is spinning around in the sky publicizing some product or slogan with a banner. Without doubt, at the conscious or unconscious origin of this work there is a captive Ana who raised, somewhere between happy and startled, her eyes to the sky, listening to the buzz of the airplane and spelling out those coded messages that were being announced up above. For this reason I myself, and you also, are represented in this photographic series, and we return to our childhood, to leisure and parties, to a clear, blue sky, with cool clothing and a tender, caring, surprised and innocent gaze as we caress the world and its inventions with our eyes.

But, what does the phrase that hangs in the wind in these eight photographs by Ana Pérez-Quiroga state? Paradoxically, there are no discourses, nor slogans, nor advertising promotions. Just a statement that seems private, almost an epistolary thought or an intimate lament. It is true that of late we have witnessed the presence in public spaces for posters of writings or banners that couples or friends of couples usually place when, for example, they are getting married or those placed by friends before stag-nights. Proclamations of love or spicy phrases with a high sexual or saucy tone, or malicious and amusing in order to announce stag-nights or coming weddings. You have all surely seen them. This work by this artist may also be understood within this sense, with a great exhibiting of means in this case and certainly within this register. Yet there is something that makes these photographs by Pérez-Quiroga go beyond this fashion. The key is in the written text. Let us read it once again slowly: From so much spinning I became dizzy. There are no affective announcements nor information about couples and lovers. No, here it is the artist herself who is defined, enunciated and exhibited. Pérez-Quiroga informs us about something lucid and festive, about a vital playfulness, a game that led her to be stunned and dizzied in a state of torpor. It appears to be a complaint that is at the same time - and there lies one further spin - a perverse and happy toy. What is going on?

On the one hand, From so much spinning I became dizzy or I hate being fat, eat me please! speak of a humble artistic self, almost submissive and self-denied, which offers itself to the spectators of the work. Finally, the public is truly the master of the situation, the authoress neither mocks them, nor ignores them, nor stands over them; to the contrary, she submits herself to their will, she becomes one with their daily lives, in their common and run-of-the-mill realities. As an example, consider her work Wallpaper (2001), a painted paper to decorate space with the evidence of the real with the daily objects from our domestic daily life; or think of Para que me calientes por la noche (2002), with those slippers in which the authoress seems to be personified in order to be filled by the feet of the spectator, with the owner of these practical and futile works. There is that immense line of slippers with phrases and expressions for each day, for each hour, created by the artist in order to warm the beloved feet and heart. Observe also that stain of ceramic plates of all types and shapes, decorated by the artist with her body as a gift for feeding the soul and the body, a slug of the artist';s flesh in order to penetrate the bodies of the others and to mobilize their throats, their oesophagi, their stomachs and their intestines ... There is Tártaro (2002), with all those action photos taken by the artist, converted into a cleaning lady, a uniformed made cleaning the bathroom, the innermost, most private, most intimate and most hidden space, with a toothbrush. A space for hygiene or for excreting, which is being purified by a submissive and generous artist, applied to her task and silently cleaning your dirt, the cuttings of your hair, the scales of your skin, of your excrescences, doing so with love and diligence.  And in this same manner and same way one should also understand From so much spinning I became dizzy, in which the artist rents a plane, orders the making of a banner and writers a phrase on it: a bare and homely supreme offering to the world and the universe in order to warn everyone about the hedonistic happiness of this inebriating and charming game, that wheel that spins wildly and in its spinning becomes a cloud and plane that claims your gaze and your smile.

And in the air-play of this plane one is also talking about everything that spins, the world, politics and history (major and minor). But Pérez-Quiroga opts for the captive and simple history, for the breviaries of the daily life that if on other occasions might have been dealt to the mildew of vitrines and cupboards and are now out in the open, freed to the four winds, shrieking at the world. The artist tells us that she is not perfect, that she is like this, that she is dizzy and happy, that she is weak and light like the wind blowing on the canvas of the banner, that she is light like the light that penetrates through the gaps in the letters.

Ah! From that emerges the light and then everything changes into celestial and spiritual, in an inapprehensible and ethereal atmosphere, and the phrase that is proclaimed in the air becomes a litany and a prayer, a mantra chanted by whirling dervishes full of mysticism and blind, foolish faith. A phrase in that phylactery oscillating in the sky that, for some moments, is a prayer and a psalm, an angelical chant of consumed and impassioned earthly love beneath a blue sky and a trace of dust.

Translation from Portuguese by David Alan Prescott
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