It’s in establishing a tension of opposing forces that the dynamism of Beatriz Olabarrieta‘s work lies. Moving across video, ceramics and textiles, the London-based artist’s Diagonal Z Jeans exhibition, presented at Mexico’s Parallel Oaxaca, in collaboration with a residency at Museo Experimental el Eco, takes its title from a denim trouser and details the elements that make them such a good fit.
In rejecting stasis in favour of what she calls “doozy decentering and a wish for a body that could expand as gum and get lost into wild spirals of form”, extra-long and rolled-up jeans legs lie flaccid on the floor, a plastic bag weighted with spray-painted raw clay in the shape of frijoles (Mexican beans) is suspended from the curved metallic stand propping up a flatscreen slung with rope. As the hanger moves the ‘beans’ scatter through a hole around the gallery, crackling when you step on them, while the video shows a hand holding a felt tip pen as it competes with the movement of a page that mimics the motion of its ‘Pulling Parallel Turning Diagonal’ (2014) title. Its writing is rendered as illegible as the “mis-communications and material observations” that the exhibition press release notes as Olabarrieta’s preoccupation with “the complexities of written or verbal (in)articulation”.
These are complexities the artist also explored during a recent residency at London’s Cell Project Space, culminating in a three-day interactive event Shifty Show (A performance with five voice overs) accompanied by Ellen Mara De Wachter‘s text ‘Shifting thoughts on stringy forms‘. In it the writer and curator questions the value of ‘doing’ in favour of a sort of ‘undoing’, which in Diagonal Z Jeans, Olabarrieta takes further by emptying these actions and objects of their function and developing a new “sculptural semi-abstract language” from all the confusion.**
Exhibition photos, top-right.