Allora and Calzadilla, a cosmic connection


It will soon be thirty years since, in 1995, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, American and Cuban, both born in the first half of the seventies, collaborated in an artistic practice defined by its breadth and its experimental vocation: based on works by Extensive research, his work marks intersections between history, material culture and politics in very diverse media, from performance, sculpture and sound to video and photography. In some of their proposals, the visual is even subordinated to the auditory and the sense of hearing can guide the viewer in their exhibitions, since they understand that the acoustic represents an uninterrupted expansion that challenges the perimeter conception of the rooms.

This duo proposes a multiplicity of ways of inhabiting the world, modes of existence that evoke the human and the animal, also the organic and the mineral. Even the active and the latent: the appearance of some of its pieces is that of inactive devices; others sound or are activated by interpreters. A burning issue, in any case, very present in its latest projects is the multiple crisis that Puerto Rico is suffering economically and environmentally: since the emergence, in 2017, of hurricanes Irma and María, the emergency situation that it was already experiencing The island has worsened, further deepening its dependence on US aid and prolonging what these authors consider a covert colonial regime.

Some fundamental projects from the last decade of Allora and Calzadilla's joint career can be seen, starting next June 20, in the “KLIMA” exhibition at Azkuna Zentroa, curated by the director of that Bilbao center, Fernando Pérez. They link historical, political, cultural and ecological issues and, in terms of their techniques, sculptures, photographs, performances, sound art and video: the viewer will be able to enter the exhibition with the purpose of becoming a subject of an aesthetic experience and open to finding the meanings of the works brought together by paths that will not always be literal, but also metaphorical. The assembly will influence the ties between their creations of the performative and the sculptural: some works will be performed periodically, in collaboration with local musicians.

The title of the exhibition refers to Greece and the immutable functioning of the cosmos (The concept of KLIMA, which dates back to the Greeks, means tilt towards the sun. All the works in this open chronology address an orientation towards the sun adopted by all forms of life. Each work can be considered a unique climate that, together, creates a cosmic entanglement, from 4,000 million years ago to the present.), because the works brought to Bilbao have to do with the evolution of life on Earth and geological time; Reflections by these authors on geopolitics, energy resources, ecological justice or postcolonialism are subordinated to them.

The earliest piece on the tour will be projected in the Azkuna Zentroa auditorium: The Great Silence, dated 2014, is a video installation centered on the largest single-aperture radio telescope in the world, which is located in Esperanza (Puerto Rico) and which transmits and captures radio waves to and from the universal confines, communicating in some way to the small country with space, challenging borders and international influences. The sound performance dates back to the same year. lifespanwhich will be in Bilbao activated by three vocalists who will perform a composition by David Lang, whistling and blowing air towards a rock sample from the Hadean period, nearly 4,000 million years old.

Allora & Calzadilla.  Lifespan, 2014

Three of the most significant works in the exhibition were carried out in 2020, the pandemic year; the first is Entelechya large charcoal sculpture molded from a tree struck by lightning, with pine wood – Pinus sylvestris– obtained from the French forest of Montignac, where the Lascaux cave is located: once again they connect their proposals with mineral creations. Cadastre, for its part, is a piece of iron filings on canvas that represents the artistic experiments that the duo has carried out with electromagnetism and the energy network, conceived as a very complex nexus of tensions. The third has to do with computing: Gloom It is a work of digital animation with shadows, synchronized with the path of the sun, which will be projected throughout the exhibition space. It is based on the walks that anti-colonial poets Aimé and Suzanne Cesaire carried out in the Absalon Valley of Martinique, together with a group of artists and intellectuals fleeing Nazi-occupied France in 1941.

Allora & Calzadilla.  Entelechy, 2020

Perhaps the most sought after work is graft (2021), beautiful and disturbing in equal parts: we are talking about an installation made up of 17,500 flowers, made from recycled polyvinyl chloride and paint; With them, Allora and Calzadilla want to remember the systemic deforestation and depletion of the flora and fauna native to the Caribbean. These extinctions are considered by these artists to be a legacy of colonial destruction.

Many of these projects clearly refer to the interests included in his intervention in the American Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale: Gloryconceived as a performative critique of the narratives and symbols present in the political, cultural and economic nationalism of that country.

Allora & Calzadilla.  Cadastre, 2020
Allora & Calzadilla.  Gloom, 2020

“Allora & Calzadilla: Klima”


Arriquibar Plaza, 4


From June 20, 2024 to January 6, 2025

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