Maria José Arjona

Article Works Projects Images
crossroads:
body, memory, time, violence
genre(subgenre):
Visual Arts (performance)
region:
America, South, America, North
country/territory:
Colombia, United States of America
created on:
May 15, 2009
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since May 20, 2009. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
Other languages:
Maria José  Arjona
Maria José Arjona. Untitled. Credits: Ted Hartshorn. Courtesy the artist

Article

Meaningful without a Message

The Performative Language Realms of Maria José Arjona

A delicate creature floats through the room like a shimmering cipher. The fine layer of soapsuds trembles under the currents of air. Soap bubbles everywhere. In their midst, a slender androgynous woman in white. An image that evokes memories of an innocent childhood game that vanishes without leaving a trace on the immaculate wall. Yet these extraordinary soap bubbles are not poetic metaphors, nor do they simply die like normal soap bubbles; submissively, without leaving a mark. When the delicate forms burst against the wall, they leave behind a red, ugly, smeary imprint. The woman softly blows bubbles in the air and watches them collide against the wall before repeating it, again and again, until her clothes, hands, and face are covered with the tinted liquid. The picture perfect idyll collapses into a nightmare scenario. There is nothing childlike about it anymore, the staged beauty turns horrific: The wall is bleeding.
The Columbian Maria José Arjona connects a sense for the physicality of simple materials with the ability to overstretch our sense of theatrical time – to the point where the staged happenings lose their theatrical economy and eventfulness. It should come as no surprise that after years of training as a ballet dancer from age five, and studying Fine Arts in Bogota, she would ultimately settle on performance art as her medium. Arjona opens artistic performative spaces, where time transforms into a processual, intensified experience of duration, and where meaning no longer seems like a message but rather a sensory event. Her idea for the bubble massacre, entitled "Untitled" (2008) is similarly inspired: Violence is not a front page event, but an action that physically inscribes itself onto space, affecting both us and it in equal measure.

Until now, Maria Jose Arjona’s work has been exhibited and critically reviewed in Colombia and in her adopted country USA. In 2009, she was an artist-in-residence at Robert Wilson´s Watermill Arts Center, where she developed the performance series "A line of thought, a line of action, a line of.” Here again resistance and the materiality and potential of found spaces is the focus of Arjona’s performance interventions and drawings.

Most of her performances are characterized by the inscribing of spaces. The power of these works derives from balancing delicacy, sustainability and aggression. Along these lines, we can see in the follow-up project to "Untitled," called "Remember to Remember" that the bloody traces of the first action have been literally "overwritten.” For hours on end, Arjona writes- "Remember to remember" – in white chalk over the same stained wall, until the soap bubble battlefield is covered in a dull layer of chalk and made white again. Arjona calls this lengthy and draining performance a "memory exercise." The process of remembering has a materiality of its own and a resistance. It doesn’t merely record what is remembered, but in its own way processes the past, though never without leaving a trace. The verbal expression realizes its own time and space by performing it over and over again as an action. Performance as work, language as realm.

"Remember to Remember" resembles many of Arjona performances in that there is no resolution; neither in symbolic nor expressive acts. Arjona’s mostly quiet, contemplative actions oppose any simple juxtaposition of language and body. One emerges out of the other, but never do they merge into one. The mystery and dignity of the objects surfaces through this configuration and becomes a metaphor for the limitations and political repressiveness of our conventional relationship to them. And yet, Marie José Arjona continually dissolves the border between performance space and spectator. In "A Thousand Beautiful Things" (2004) she has arranged a variety of objects on a wide rectangle of sand on the floor and then invited viewers to add objects of their own to the tableau. Arjona sings for hours “Je ne regrette rien" in a karaoke duet with Edith Piaf, until her voice fails. Spectators are invited to join in the performance. The appealing simplicity of Arjona’s performance art shows us what she understands as art: creating situations where new ideas and possibilities can unfold and stimulate thought. The step from dance to performance was for her a step towards viewing the body as a form of choreographic thinking that demands that we see the physicality of things as being equally meaningful and intractable. "Performance art," says Maria Jose Arjona, "moves beyond the vocabulary of what we expect."
Author: Constanze Klementz

Works

Guardian Solar (Sun keeper)

Production / Performance,
2009
Performagia Performance Art Festival, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Juarez, Mexico City, Mexico

Quid pro Quo

Established,
2009
Installation. ArtCenter/ South Florida, Miami, USA

Body over water

Production / Performance,
2005
Frost Museum (FIU), Miami, USA

Vivo

Production / Performance,
2005
Video performance. Galleri Se, Bergen, Norway

Time

Production / Performance,
2005
Damien-B Contemporary Art Center, Miami, USA

Body over water

Production / Performance,
2005
The Ballroom Marfa, Texas, USA

The lore of flight

Production / Performance,
2005
Miami Light Project, Miami, USA

Expires By…

Production / Performance,
2005
Art Center, Miami, USA

A Thousand Beautiful Things

Production / Performance,
2004
Performance and installation. Damien B., Miami, USA

Figures

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Drawings for a performance piece. Dorsh Gallery, Miami, USA

Vivo

Production / Performance,
2004
Museo Del Barrio, New York, USA

365 kisses

Production / Performance,
2003
The Center, Miami, USA

Only in present tense

Production / Performance,
2003
The Center. Miami, USA

Entities of Power. Objects

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
Summer Sculpture Show. Dorsch Gallery. Miami, USA

Vivo

Production / Performance,
2003
Axis Lab, Miami, USA

Vault

Production / Performance,
2003
Performance and installation, n.p.

Corn Mantra (Variation)

Production / Performance,
2003
Performance and installation. Arte Americas, Coconut Grove Convention Center, Miami, USA

Winged Ally

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
Drawings. Bass Museum of Art, Miami, USA

Nomad Territory.

Production / Performance,
2002
Performance and installation. N.p.

Mantra de salvacion (Mantra for salvation)

Production / Performance,
2002
Video performance. Art Basel; Dorsch Gallery, Miami, USA

Messenger

Production / Performance,
2002
Snitzer Gallery -The Solar Art House, Miami, USA

Crow-Condor Project

Production / Performance,
2002
Performance Art Festival. Museum of Contemporary Art "La Tertutlia". Cali, Colombia

Monument

Production / Performance,
2002
Art in Public Spaces, Bogota, Colombia

Initiation

Production / Performance,
2002
Art in Public Spaces, Bogota, Colombia

Nomad Territory

Production / Performance,
2001
Performance and installation. Dorsch Gallery, Miami, USA; Bogota International Airport, Art in Public Spaces, Bogota, Columbia

I bring the ocean

Production / Performance,
2001
Bass Museum of Art, Globe Miami Island, Miami, USA; Exit Art, New York, USA; The House, Miami, USA

Project Pentagon

Production / Performance,
2001
Performance cycle ´360 Degrees, 365 Days, Building Time´. Curated by Consuelo Pabon, Ministry of Culture (Ministerio de Cultura), Colombia

Inside out

Production / Performance,
2000
Valenzuela & Klenner Gallery, Bogota, Colombia

Fluid

Production / Performance,
1999
Galeria Alzate Avendano, Bogota, Colombia

Tact

Production / Performance,
1999
Performance and installation. Artists in Residence. Bogota, Colombia; Ex-Teresa, Mexico, Mexico

Flesh

Production / Performance,
1999
Performance and installation, Ghost University, Bogota, Colombia

Ocean

Production / Performance,
1998
Uniandes, Bogota, Colombia

Three cups of chocolate

Production / Performance,
1998
Performance and installation. Art in Public Spaces, Bogota, Colombia.

Capacity of Absorption

Production / Performance,
1998
ASAB, Bogota, Colombia

Anamorficas

Production / Performance,
1997
Gilberto Alzate Avendano Gallery, Bogota, Colombia

Sincretismo

Production / Performance,
1997
Salon de Arte Joven ASAB, Bogota, Colombia

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

IN TRANSIT 09

Resistance of the Object

(11 June 09 - 21 June 09)
images
Remember to Remember