Style and technique of the artist: Sculpture Objects,
Johanna Unzueta: A Little Piece of Me
Imagine that our bodies are always surrounded by something… by things which have volume and movement. Imagine a situation where it is the objects which move around us, instead of us moving around them. Imagine a reversal in position, in who or what has the ability to move.
One of the biases of recent conceptual art practice has been a denigration of the labour process in favour of a privileging of ideas that presumably distances the producer from the materiality of a given medium and reinforces a qualitative distinction between art and craft or between media like photography and video (thought to be intrinsically more conceptual) and more traditional media like painting and sculpture. As suggested by the title she has chosen for her exhibition, Johanna Unzueta seeks to valorize the actual process through which she transforms felt—a semi-organic, sensuous, and ‘warm’ material that both alludes to the practice of dressmaking (typically gendered female and thus undervalued) and is also an obvious reference to Beuys—into a series of sculptural objects that may be read against an entire tradition of Marxist aesthetics with its discussions of the emancipatory potential of art, but must also be situated within the biographical concerns of an artist who came of age during a military dictatorship which sought to suppress those very same ideals…
The careful handiwork of Johanna Unzueta’s felt “industrial sculptures” of factories, mills, cooling towers, and houses remind the viewer of the ‘work of hands’ that underlies any grand modern accomplishment. The games of scale affected by the play between her site-specific awnings and miniature buildings make the imposing and impersonal intimate and accessible. In conjuring up thehuman history of labor, her nostalgic sculptures of abandoned Industrial Revolution-era buildings give a revised retelling of the story of technological advancement in which time as a constant force that both buries and popularizes these architectural “monuments.”
Works and biography.