Ana Campos, 2012
Silvia Walz retrospective. Julia Gallery, Barcelona
Silvia Walz shows us her work here in a retrospective which is more like one stage in an artistic career in process. We find a variety of arguments within each piece, joined together in a complex discourse. Taken as a whole, is there a feminine sensibility? There are direct and indirect references to women, as well as certain allusions to what were once those handcrafts that we used to think of as being feminine, such as embroidery, sewing fabric or even perhaps painting. All this emerges transformed, in a reasoned and emancipated over turning of conventions, so that we find ourselves asking what she is trying to tell us. As with all contemporary art, her pieces demand intellectual exercise on our part, in order to understand her creative and communicative intentions. However, this attempt at comprehension mustn’t be an end point. It has to be a provisional interpretation that precedes others, which in a process symmetrical to hers, represents that work done on part of the public.
Foucault proposes that we reflect about the heterotopia. Different from the utopias – that are connected with locations which are essentially unreal, although they could still be places which connect with a real, social space, as if direct or inverted analogies – heterotopias are, in opposition to this, real places. Perhaps at some other time they were utopias, but effectively they’ve been made real. Heterotopias are spaces-other, they are places where various human experiences come together, and even though they appear incompatible, produce ways of life or multiple and mixed effects. They are spaces where alterity and identity are intertwined, where then, heterogeneity, difference and expressions of plurality reside. They work to the full when there’s a type of “absolute rupture with traditional time,” when time also accumulates in them, symmetrically.1
This time is neither a return to zero, to nothingness, nor history time, as if a dead ruin of the past. It is, I would say, a time-other. Being both present and multiple, it’s one that keeps memories, ideas and feelings alive. It includes vestiges, though not as stagnant remains, rather as recycled, made of tangible sensations. It’s active and in dialogue with the present. It’s a living time that makes artistic matter. It’s thought-out, accumulated and synchronised with experiences, in order to express intentions and individual choices.
One by one, Silvia Walz’s pieces are vestiges in a time-other. In each one of them there’s a characteristic discourse amongst more or less old memories and vestiges of gazes in a Mediterranean setting, which while born in the North of Europe, she’s decided to make her own. There’s a multiplicity in them, which, intriguingly is considered and becomes meaningful. On the other hand, if we look retrospectively, her pieces taken as a whole are also vestiges of a life story, equally lived as a time-other , in a place that she’s transformed into a space-other . In this way, she shows the evolution of her work as though an artistic process, without an end in sight. Full of curiosity, she searches unceasingly for heterogeneity. She also allows us to think that if each piece has a uniqueness, then equally there are steps and different moments in the discovery, in the reflective experience.
The materials and techniques become tangible vestiges and therefore alive, in this same time-other, contributing towards her creative process. If each technique also has a history, a trajectory with it’s own rules, then Silvia Walz explores these, defying conventions. Making conjunctions, experimenting, she invents until they become expressive, to the point whereby they’re artistic material capable of emphasising what she wishes to tell us, by way of a multiple poetry.
1 Foucault, Michel, 1984, “Des espaces autres. Hétérotopies”, (conferencia en el Cercle d’Études Architecturales, 1967), en Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, n°5, Octubre: 46-49.