Memory is a social construct – its content depends on individual or collective self-consciousness, as well as on social interactions with other individuals and groups. When someone makes a life-changing move (i.e. moving to another country), his or her remembrance is prone to so-called “memory rapture”. This rapture in memory enables more critical and objective examination of individual’s own memory on past events, as well as examination of groups’ collective remembrance, which is often a subject of art practices (you can check out the work by Andrea Geyer, for example). Peres Projects from Berlin organizes a two-person exhibition entitled Muscle Memory, with new works by Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca and Polish-Canadian artist Przemek Pyszczek. Both artists create work that draws from their experiences of social and cultural displacement as first generation North Americans.
Donna Huanca is a Bolivian-American artist who uses painting, sculpture, sound and performance to create large-scale installations that often serve as platforms for social, interactive and collaborative happenings. In her latest works, Huanca explores the position of the female executive on the male-dominated battlefield of corporate life. This amazing artist’s aim is actually to communicate (through her work) the way power relations in our contemporary societies influence what is commonly called “the politics of body”. By examining female position in corporative structures, Donna Huanca investigates how the power suit and bold use of brand-name cosmetics have armored women in high positions. In Cosmetic Paintings, the routine female practice of applying makeup and dressing for success is transformed into a powerful, primal action, employing these normative symbols of feminine power by applying Chanel makeup onto woolen suit material. In the context of an exhibition, Huanca’s flat works act as backdrops to be experienced in conversation with the body. They are activated through a performance of painted female bodies glacially engaging with the works and space.
Przemek Pyszczek is a Polish-Canadian artist whose work concentrates on interrelations between ideology, form, architecture and memory. As a Poland-born artist, he is familiar with Eastern European architecture built during the communist era, whose aim was to reduce the complexity of life into human scale units of shared wealth and community (in case you like street art, you might be interested to read our article about 10 Eastern European Urban Artists). At the center of this ideology was an architectural impetus that led to massive groups of housing blocks centered around parks filled with brightly colored and elaborately shaped metal jungle gym equipment. In the Playground Structure series, Przemek Pyszczek destroys, rebuilds and abstracts these forms as a way of reconciling childhood memory with the realities of immigrant displacement.
Both Donna Huanca and Przemek Pyszczek practices are a product of artists’ interest in the ramifications of cultural norms and social planning on the body. While Huanca employs signifiers of female power to confront social constructs around gender, Pyszczek draws on communal memory and the innocence of childhood to reconstruct a bygone ideology on contemporary terms. As a result of these interests, beautiful artworks were created that will be exhibited during the Muscle Memory two-person show at Peres Projects in Berlin, that will be on view from June 27th until August 8th, 2015.
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Featured Image: Donna Huanca - Pisces (Brows) [detail], 2015
Image in Slider: Przemek Pyszczek -Playground Structure (Calisthenics)[detailed],2015
All Images courtesy of Peres Projects.