Laura Colmenares Guerra exhibits new work in iMAL
Laura Colmenares Guerra (© Gautier Houba)
In an otherwise dark space, three tilted screens in an impressive installation demand your complete attention. Within seconds you're immersed in a claustrophobic vision, which alternates between images of a mountain lake, a man under water, power plants on rugged, floating islands, fracturing rocks, and high-technological, fishlike monsters.
Death, memory, and water are the central themes in this tale, which implicates you directly via three taps, controlling devices, in its inevitable ending. "It is a way of raising consciousness," Laura Colmenares Guerra says about the results of her 2015 residence at iMAL, the interactive Media Art Laboratory in Molenbeek. "Consciousness about how we have an impact and a responsibility, in the way we consume or through the choices we make."
The drowning man as an intimate metaphor for the planet. "Nature has always played a big part in my work. This time, I wanted to talk about fracking, a method of extracting gas from shell rocks, that involves a lot of chemicals that contaminate the water. We have it all, you know, but we can't seem to stop destroying what we have, thinking – hoping – that we can always go and colonise another planet. We're a destructive breed. And yes, I am aware of the irony in pointing that out through technology." [Laughs]
The Colombian videographer and visual artist, who moved to Brussels thirteen years ago for Transmedia Studies at Sint-Lukas and spent her first few years as a VJ teaching clubbers artistic consciousness, currently has her studio at Ateliers Mommen, but came back to work at iMAL for a few weeks to prepare her exhibition. It is a unique place that not only provides space, but also an open-minded audience, support, and a critical mass.
'Art is interaction'
"Even though this is the most narrative work I have created up to now, and I had a script to guide us from the beginning, it remains a team effort. And not just because it would have taken me five years more to finish this piece by myself… I am always very open to collaboration, to other people contributing ideas and sharing their experiences. Like the texts I write about my work, those interactive moments are necessary steps in the evolution of a piece."
It is this inescapable "other" that is given a place in Laura Colmenares Guerra's work. The other encroaches on our own reality and propels evolution. Including in the audience. "To me, art is interaction. I need the spectator. If there is no presence, there is nothing happening. People not only participate in my work, they complete it."
"The way my practice has evolved links back to the artistic trajectory that began in the 1970s, when artists wanted to get out of the white cube and started making performance art and involving others. I think it is important to create those relationships, to raise questions, not just about the world, but also about the creative process and its complexity. Construction and destruction, you know. I want to generate ideas. I don't have all the answers myself, but if my work appeals to people's sensibilities, gives them access to something else, and triggers a few questions, it has already been worthwhile."
> Lagunas. > 31/03 (finissage: 31/3, 18.3), iMAL, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek