Lives in London, Stockholm, Santiago de Chile
How do you describe your own art practice?
As a Latin American artist, the image of an artist describing their own art practice is a trope that I find fascinating for how cryptic, funny, disappointing, enlightening, misleading, fragile, or embarrassing the artist might be at talking about their own oeuvre. To me, it’s a lifelong exercise. In 2012 I would have answered your question with my essay/self-help manual ‘HOW TO BE SOMEOME: A Formula to Conquer the World’. In 2016 I would respond with a dramatized artist statement in ‘The Rise of The Latin American Artist’. In 2017 with the telenovela trailer ‘Labyrinth of Illusion’. In 2018 with the reggaeton single MONEY MONEY. 2022 with a meme
Which question or theme is central in your work?
Belonging, not-belonging, trying to belong, not wanting to belong. I often return to the figure of the ‘pachuco’ which the Mexican philosopher Octavio Paz describes in his essay ‘The Labyrinth of Solitude’ (1950) as an impassive and sinister clown that is always on the run, embodying grotesque dandyism and defiant behavior towards the society that receives them as a migrant.
What was your first experience with art?
When I was a child and I arrived in Iquique, a Chilean coast town located between the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama Desert. Sometimes there were sandstorms. I learned to read and write there. There was a print in my parent’s house that was an ocean by night with palm trees, I liked the lines so much, they were all parallel it wasn’t an expressionist print, I looked at it often before going to school since it was also dark, I used to relate the print to that darkness before dawn. Then, probably a schoolteacher recommended my parents to take me to painting lessons, there are no art or culture-related people in my family. I attended painting lessons in the cultural center, and the old wooden house smelled of turpentine and floor wax. They asked me to make a self-portrait and I painted myself looking at myself in the mirror… very meta. I remember that moment.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
I feel embarrassed any time I use the word “inspiration” in its whole length to talk about art, it’s the strict Chilean academy showing up. I would answer with what gives me a kick, a brain high, what turns me on intellectually, more than an aha- moment I really appreciate a what the fuck-moment and things that you say, “this isn’t true but ¿what if it was?” I find that often in Latin American pop culture, bad TV, infomercials, self-help literature, pseudo-science, gossip magazines, boomers’ PowerPoint jokes, pretentious and very affected art talk, rumors, heartbreaks, sex-positive parties, juice ads, jingles, old-school reggaeton beats low fi beats lost on the internet, messages written on greasy toilet doors, American cereal boxes design, toys graphics, absurd and over the top merchandising like planes flying with a banner back and forth during summer. Also, people’s lives, for a very mysterious reason, people tend to get confessional with me and tell me lots of things. Random conversations heard on the street.
What do you need in order to create your work?
It changes depending on what kind of work am I doing. Currently, I am writing a telenovela chapter for my project Telenovela and Social Transformation for a solo show at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, so, being in Chile during this massive shift and intense political moment that our society is going through is crucial to me. The root of my emotional cosmogony lies in Latin America, I was born and raised in Chile. And in general, I would say stimulating surroundings, literature, and people. To me, art-making is the perfect excuse to meet up with new people or approach people I am curious about. As I see it, producing art is like inviting people to play a game. Joy is an important part of what I need for myself and for the people involved in the process, I find it political, especially being raised in Chile during the dictatorship where things were so grey.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
‘Nuestra parte de noche’ (2019) a novel by the Argentinean author Mariana Enríquez. It shook me to the core. I read it and suffer through it; I was stunned and disgusted. But it felt necessary to better connect with the region where I was raised, she addresses some very deep fears that I also share as a Latin American. ‘Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 50s-Now’ in Tate Britain.