Cristina Ferrández and Amalia Ulman, in “Ocho visiones de un paisaje que nunca se termina de hacer”

Next March 18 opens “Ocho visiones de un paisaje que nunca se termina de hacer”, an exhibition around the Archive of Asturian Artists

Published: Mar 02, 2015

By Montaña Hurtado (, @zapatosrosas

Those of you who follow LABlog or the regular programme of LABoral probably know that this art centre has its focus, together with international projection, on the local artistic creation. This has been so since its opening in 2008 and was reinforced in 2010 with the implementation of the Archive of Asturian Artists, a mandatory source of research for those managers and curators that want to learn more about the artistic production developed in this region. However, the Archive of Asturian Artists goes beyond a physical and virtual spaces, as the Centre from Gijon tries to make more visible and dynamic the projects by more than one hundred artists included in its archive by means of specific actions included in its programme, as calls or exhibitions, like the one celebrated last year under the title “Universo Vídeo. Geo-políticas”, or the one that opens from next March 18 to June 21: “Ocho visiones de un paisaje que nunca se termina de hacer”.

This new exhibition, curated by Alfredo Aracil, gathers eight video works by Ramón Lluis Bande, Cristina Ferrández, DV Colectivo, David Ferrando, Elisa Cepedal, Marcos Merino and Amalia Ulman. They all present in their work diverse approaches and concepts, between documentary and fiction. As indicated in LABoral's web site, the landscape, in this show, is understood as a body, as a mental place and a physical space, the close connections that exist between humanity and nature.

After doing some research on the eight artists taking part in the exhibition, I have decided to focus this post on the work of Cristina Ferrández and Amalia Ulman.

Cristina Ferrández is a graduate in Fine Arts by Universidad de Castilla La Mancha. Her interest for the landscape and the creation of a collective awareness of nature started when completing her PhD programme at Universidad Miguel Hernández de Alicante. The work of Ferrández focuses on how our way to inhabit the landscape, to establish relationships and build social and economic structures affect its future. For Ferrández, the landscape cannot be understood without its emotional and social dimension, including proposals for its regeneration from an ecological and territory-friendly perspective. In her work “Erosión”, Cristina Ferrández analyses, using moving images, different processes of natural, man-made and mental erosion presenting the landscape as a body in permanent evolution and transformation and warning us, at the same time, about the risks of overusing the natural resources that we take advantage of for our own purposes, turning them into manufactured goods in series production, adapting them to suit our own taste and interests. However, erosion can as well create very beautiful cliffs and landscapes.

EROSION, Cristina Ferrández from Cristina Ferrández on Vimeo.

On the other hand, Amalia Ulman's work reflects upon another type of transformation: That experienced by the body, on natural or man-made grounds, that affects, at the same time, the building of one's own identity and the identity that we artificially build using the mass media and social media like Instagram. It is precisely on this social network that Ulman carried ou the project Excellences & Perfections, an online performance created and performed by the artists by means of numerous selfies and videos to tell the story of a young girl from the country that arrives in the city to make her dream of becoming a model come true.

Excellences & Perfections, that included some (fake) plastic surgery operations to reflect upon the authenticity of the messages that we get from the social networks and mass media, made Amalia Ulman a celebrity on the Instagram, with more than 70 thousand followers.

Cristina Ferrández and Amalia Ulman, in “Ocho visiones de un paisaje que nunca se termina de hacer”

In the case of Excellences & Perfections, however, it was the artist who was in control of her identity and her body, but it is not always so. The body, the identity, can also be shaped, manufactured and built by others with more or less legitimate or moral purposes. This is what Amaia Ulman explores in the audiovisual project “The Future Ahead, that analyses how the music industry has changed and shaped the image and even the sexual identity of Justin Bieber in its own interest, minimising the risks of an unavoidable transformation in his body, because Justin Bieber used to be a perfect boy, a being without sex first and a pre-teen that looked like a girl and was not allowed to grow. But Justin bieber grew and now, 21 years old, shows a clearly heterosexual image because his heterosexuality is needed by a machine to keep on working, a machine that produces millions of dollars annually.

What is curious, according to Ulman's theory, is that the manhood and masculinity of Bieber is generated and built by a recurring gesture, raising his eyebrows to show the expression wrinkles of the forehead, aging signs that are socially accepted for men but are totally unacceptable for women, who are expected to look forever young, starting even before any aging signs even exist. Nevertheless, experience, as Amalia Ulman says, is also a female trait and aging, is a human right, because the body is also a landscape that is never completed.

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