Your mom’s little remainder (2006)
October 2006 – The Benjamín Vicuña MacKenna National Museum
Invisibility: the fragility and the disappearance of the work of art in the moment of its enacting. To leave, there, the existence of what took place for two: mother and son. And the operation, the operation of the invisible, of the instantaneous, through the premeditated manipulation of subjective and unpredictable circumstances and lived experience.
That in which I transform my mother into an artist and where she, a person who does not relate herself to the arts, is capable of executing artistic operations. It is this invisible aspect that the public will not see where for me the artwork operates. In thinking with her, in remembering the past together, our lives, her memories of motherhood, in the evaluation of our shared life, our shared lives. In how we make of our relationship mother-son art and life. In the construction of life as a work of art. In those moments of relating that mark people forever.
If I die after the show, I will die in peace with my mother. She says that she has only made two artworks previous to this collaborative effort: Daniel and Francisco, her two sons. Thanks to her—to her teachings, to her special way of inducing me to dream and to use my creativity to control and construct myself—I began to do what I do today. For me, collaborating on this project with her has to do with giving back to her what she has given me and with marking the end of an era in our relationship. Cutting the cord.
Next there is the excuse / the methodology: the work of art as a means of universalizing the (biographical) anecdote. Editing as a method of recursive revision of the artwork: the videos, photos, objects, narrations, documentary film and the assemblage. The formality of art that makes it art.
I invite my mother Luisa Salinas, a 52 year old homemaker who works from time to time taking care of elderly patients, to collaborate on an exhibition with me.
She is a woman with a hard past, wrapped up in the typical male chauvinist contexts, where her construction as an individual has been developed through various, distinct personal processes. Over the years she has become increasingly independent.
For this project she took on the continuous creation two of her artworks, works that deal with processes of individuation within society. One is a photo composite of two full body photos of herself, front and back, printed on a sheet of 120 x 90cm paper and subsequently cut up into 20 x 20cm squares which are thrown to the floor. The public is invited to collect these squares and reconstruct her image on the wall like a puzzle. She sees the importance of her social environment in her own personal development.
The other work consisted in a plant that the public was invited to water, symbolizing the fruitful relationship that she has had with her son.
On the other hand, she examines aspects of her construction as mother. She makes an installation of teacups, referring to a very intimate aspect of her relationship with me. From a very young age I suffer from a fear of vomiting, and every time that I became nervous or something I ate sat wrong in my stomach and I wanted to vomit I began to feel nauseous and dizzy and to feel the onset of a panic attack. My mother always brought me herbal tea and spoke with me to calm my nerves. She told me stories, she had me close my eyes and imagine that we were going to the beach, she narrated everything that happened during the trip. She had me walk along the ocean shore and listen to the waves crashing. And later, often over a cup of tea, we conversed well into the wee hours of the night, resolving things and dreaming. My mother always used to say to me, “Dreaming is free.” I think that I always took that seriously, and still do to this day. To this day we sit with a cup of tea and share a moment of respite together until the worst of my panic attacks passes. A fierce mother, who is always there for me. And I a fierce mama’s boy too happy to have her as my mother.
Another work that formed a part of the show presents a floral imaginary: grasses and natural plants that slowly dry up and die in the enclosed space of the gallery as the days pass (a shared dream in a fictitious world that becomes exhausted and ends).
In another room, the last of the show, two phrases are written on the wall: “Soñar es gratis” (“Dreaming is free”) and “Vivir no” (“Living… not so much”). In this final room a boy stands on an empty lot, a representation of the empty lot in front of the house where I lived as a small child and that happens to be where my mom lived her adolescence.A point in common. A place where life evinces its difficulty.