GIANINE TABJA
Unit I: El Paraiso Gianine Tabja's Solo Show In colonization, the preexisting culture was annulled, and upon its foundations normative institutions where edified with the purpose of installing a ‘civilized culture’ through the use of new practices, such as the imposition of a language based on religion. Currently, the practices of colonization are still present and are evidenced by actions that intend to ‘cover’ their predecessors, whether with paint or cement, and thus give the city a new image. Following her search and exploration around the city and its transformations, Gianine Tabja returns to the figure of the huaca—a Quechua word that refers to an object that represents something revered, typically a monument—which opens a number of questions surrounding the role these constructions occupy in the landscape. The huaca is a complex figure in that it constitutes both a material trace and the mark of an absence: The absence of the defeated. This inevitably leads to think of the concept of ‘ruin’ in opposition to the concept of ‘monument’. While the idea of monument is linked to triumph, to resistance, to an enduring past; ruin refers to failure, destruction, wreckage and absence. It is therefore no coincidence that El Paraiso was chosen as the protagonist of her new visual proposal, as it is the most ancient huaca of Lima´s coast, dating back to 2.000 BC. Unlike other huacas that, after being abandoned by the government have been captured by the private sector—as part of the exacerbated neoliberalism that seeks to promote (gastronomic) culture disguised as a Country Brand—, El Paraiso, far from its biblical its meaning, is located outside of Lima´s touristic circuit: Between pig farms and landfills, always threatened by invasions and the greed of property development companies that shamelessly attempt to destroy this historical heritage. Unit I: El Paraiso contains three pieces that, beyond establishing a circular and fluent dialogue, require the spectator to take distance and carefully observe the layers proposed by the artist in her pieces. It is in this game of appearances and superimpositions that Tabja reveals a sharp criticism of the mechanisms of power and learnt practices as a result of a savage colonialism that wishes to mutilate every precedent that is considered contrary to their idea of modernism and progress. In “Structure of El Paraiso” the huaca is presented as an empty body, of which only a wrought iron skeleton is left as physical evidence. Thus, what was once an administrative and ceremonial body appears covered in sand. This, more than representing the passing of time, embodies the natural element that characterizes the city of Lima. The horizontal displacement of the periphery and its occupation by the constant invasions contrasts with the verticality concentrated in the middle and upper class neighborhoods, from where the financial centers emerge. Due to this, the presence of a bus stop in the middle of the exhibition room not only leads to think of non-places as spaces of transit, but also brings the spectator to consider its imprint as a commercial object or an object of publicity. “Paradero” (“Bus-Stop” in English), exhibits the two opposing faces of the city: On one side, architectural constructions in constant risk of disappearing, such as huacas Catalina Huanca, El Paraiso and Puruchuco; and on the other side buildings of control and power which constitute the ideological apparatus of the State, such as the Government Palace, Lima´s Cathedral and San Isidro’s Business Center. Finally, “Superimposition 1” constructs an exercise of unveiling the different layers and realities that overlap in the huaca. What appears to be a new landscape, constructed by thin layers and glazes, is nothing more than a harsh criticism to this uncontrolled colonialism that denies the past and covers it with cement. Unit I: El Paraiso breaks with the sweetened and idealized neoclassicism of ‘Brand Peru’. By doing this, it questions the presence of the huaca as a historical, architectural, symbolic and functional element, as well as our relations with local history and the structures on which the city sustains itself. Luisa Fernanda Lindo - curator Unidad I: El Paraíso 21 of April - 29 of May 2015 - Cecilia Gonzalez Contemporary Art Gallery, Barranco - Lima