RECENT WORKS PRESENTED AT liste 2019, basel. 80m2 livia benavides GALLERY (lima, pe). PROJECTS ON cognitive landscapes, astronomy, and EXTRATERRESTRIAL CERAMICS
HOW RIVERS THINK, 2018-2019 / Last year artist Oscar Santillán canoed down one of the rivers that tributes the Amazon river. There, as he moved through the waters, Santillán took actual samples of the water and floating little fragments of the rainforest. Knowing that this river (called “Kushuimi” by the native Shuars) is near 50 km long, and that the tray of a slide projector has 80 slots, he proceeded to gather those samples every 600 meters. In that way, the whole length of the river was captured within this work. ‘How Rivers Think’ shows an actual herbarium, nevertheless it is a strange one since rather than drying out the botanical samples in order to keep them in a pristine, isolated state, in this work we find that those samples have been kept as small ecosystems in themselves.
The title of this piece refers to prominent anthropological texts such as ‘How Natives Think’ (1922) and, more recently, the groundbreaking ‘How Forests Think’ (2013) written by Eduardo Kohn based on his field research in the same Ecuadorian Amazon.
TEARS TELESCOPE, 2019 / The invention of the telescope in the early 17th century radically transformed humanity; from there on it was crystal clear that we were a fascinating speck of dust in the midst of endless space and time. From Galileo to us, optical telescopes consist of two lenses. If one would attempt a simple definition of a telescope, it could be said that it is a device that dramatically extends the reach of the eye.
But, what if the eye itself could become a telescope? This is precisely what happens in Tears Telescope, in which teardrops are understood as lenses.
Droplets can be carefully manipulated--by pressing them and by their own surface tension, to take on the convex shape of a lens. Following from the explanation in the graph on the left, if a teardrop is held a few centimeters above another teardrop, when the two of them are aligned they have become a telescope. If done with patience, in this extremely simple way it is possible to do astronomical observations through this unexpected tears telescope. It is a telescope built from a material that comes from the eyes themselves.
This work consists of a photograph of the moon taken in this way, and of the video documentation describing the way in which this process is carried out. The work in itself is shown as some sort of “miracle” since the way in which the video appears on a screen--a really thin layer just 1mm thick, turns it into an elusive and enticing object for observation.
INDIGENOUS CYBERNETICS: MACHINE, ANIMAL, LANDSCAPE / LECTURE BY OSCAR SANTILLAN / maY 6 ::: 10AM / MUSEO UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DE COLOMBIA, BOGOTA / WITHIN THE EVENT ‘EXPERIMENTA SUR’ AND THE GROUP EXHIBITION ‘LA NATURALEZA DE LAS COSAS’ CURATED BY HALIM BADAWI.
In 1971, in the midst of the Chilean socialist experiment, a visionary computer programmer named Stafford Beer was asked to develop –in collaboration with young Chilean engineers– a system that would allow for real-time decision making and communication between factories and government officials. With only one computer linked to old telex machines this system (a sort of predecessor of the internet) was set into motion. It was named Project Cybersyn.
Around year 600AD an incredibly manifold notation-system was invented, which was capable of recording both numeric and writing information. The khipu system, meaning “knot” in the local Quechua language, precisely consisted of knotted strings giving it the particular quality of being both visual and tactile; in other words, it was a material way of coding.
SOLARIS / to be shown within ‘Chronos Cosmos’, SOCRATES PARK (ny). CURATED by JESS WILCOX. maY 5 - SEP 3, 2019
The Atacama Desert, in Chile, is the most arid place on the planet; its atmospheric conditions make it the perfect site for astronomical observations. Over time this immense territory has hosted many different human populations, including the Incas, and nowadays impressive telescopes are installed there. For Solaris, sand gathered at the Atacama Desert was first melted becoming glass. This glass was then turned into photographic lenses. These ‘desert eyes’ were brought back to the Atacama desert and used to photograph its landscape. The captured images go beyond representing the landscape; in Solaris, the desert is an observing subject rather than a passive object to be looked at. Solaris takes its inspiration from the sci-fi classic of the same title, by Soviet writer Stanislaw Lem, which explored a potential type of intelligence that does not derive from a brain, but, rather, from the sea of a distant planet called Solaris.
PHANTOM CAST / shown within ‘KÖRPERWENDE’, nrw forum, dusseldorf (DE). CURATED by Cis Bierinckx. march 29 - may 5, 2019
SOLO PRESENTATION AT ARCO MADRID 2019, CURATED SECTION. COPPERFIELD GALLERY (london, uk). RECENT WORKS ON EXTRATERRESTRIAL CERAMICS, SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITIONS, AND THE RECOMPOSITION OF HISTORY.
power play, group show CURATED BY aARON CEZAR. DELFINA FOUNDATION / KOREAN CULTURAL CENTER, LONDON. 26/01/2019 — 16/03/2019.
SOLO PRESENTATION AT ART BASEL MIAMI 2018, positions section, parque gallery (mexico city). introducing all new works following TRACES OF the 1874 mexican ASTRONOMICAL expedition to japan.
CUERPO DE AGUA, A stranger’s left footstep gathered on one side of the Pacific Ocean, and a stranger’s right footstep gathered on the opposite side of the same ocean. 2018
Work in co-authorship with Yoko Ono. This work is Santillán's response to Ono’s invitation to take part in her “Water Event”.
Cuerpo de Agua follows Santillán's interest for ancient Trans-oceanic contact hypotheses, which are attempts to explain earlier population of the American continent. According to these hypotheses, ancient sailors would have traveled from Asia across the Pacific Ocean reaching the coasts of the American continent. More specifically, the artist has conducted research on the particular version put forward in the 1960’s by archaeologists Emilio Estrada and Betty Meggers. They elaborated on this possibility after conducting comparative studies between the ceramics of Jomon (current Japan) and Valdivia (current Ecuador). Cuerpo de Agua is the artist’s attempt to gather physical evidence meant to demonstrate that a human being with one foot on each side of the ocean actually exists.
Catalog of MÁCULA (solo show at MUAC, Mexico) available to download
'A THOUSAND YEARS OF NONLINEAR HISTORY'. weaving made of yarn from each century of the past MILLENNIA. 2018
'BERMEJA' SHOWN WITHIN 'phantom limb' at FRIES MUSEUM (The Netherlands), ON VIEW UNTIL 6 JAN 2019. CURATED BY EELCO VAN DER LINGEN.
'Correspondances' performed live at LACMA (Los Angeles, CA) Friday Jan 19th 2018, interpreted by Soprano Juliana Snapper.
*ASTERISM*. SOLO SHOW. Galerie Martin van Zomeren (Amsterdam). Opens: Nov 24th, 2017, 5-9pm
'A HYMN' included in the exhibition 'Stage of Being' at Voorlinden Museum (The Netherlands). From Dec 9th 2017.
UNA CIERTA EDAD DEL MUNDO. SOLO SHOW AND BOOK LAUNCH. GALERIE MAZZOLI (BERLIN). CURATED BY Chiara IAneselli. Opens: Sep 15th, 2017 AT 6pm
MACULA. solo show at MUAC (Mexico). curated by amanda de la garza. 2017
WALKING UNDER A CLOUD. PERFORMANCE. 2017
voyager. found shirt and meteorite buttons. 2016
ZARATÁN. Solo exhibition at Witte de With (Rotterdam, NL). Curated by Natasha Hoare. 22.04 - 10.07.2016
TEXT OF THE EXHIBITION HANDOUT:
“There is one story that has ranged the whole of geography and all epochs – the tale of mariners who land on an unknown island which then sinks into the sea and drowns them because it is a living creature.” Jorge Luis Borges, Book of Imaginary Beings, 1957
Zaratán is a new commission by artist Oscar Santillan (1980, Ecuador). The outcome of months of research that started in Russia and ended in the Dominican Republic, this series of works create parallel realities to collected texts, myths, and histories. Titled after a creature recorded in Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings, the project traces how we shape the unknown using the forms and tropes at our disposal and enacts Borges’ referential play between encyclopedic fact and apocryphal tale. Santillan thus animates and materializes the imaginary, eschewing empirical definitions of materiality and existence. Drawing from Borges losing his sight in later life, the works also play on aspects of visuality, manipulating the dichotomy of that which is seen and that which lies beyond sight.
1. Baneque, 2016. Christopher Columbus and other explorers relentlessly searched for the phantom island of Baneque. Guided by a map drawn by Columbus on his first trip to the Americas, the artist travelled to the supposed coordinates of Baneque where he gathered dozens of gallons of water. The island is reconstituted by using the salt water collected; as the water evaporates the salt turns into a crystallized form. The phantom becomes tangible.
2. The Messenger, 2016. In 2002, an avalanche killed Russian actor and filmmaker Sergei Bodrov Jr. together with 48 members of his crew, whilst filming the early scenes for his film The Messenger. The footage captured during the shoot remained intact in the body of a camera; the final frames of the filmstrip remain unused, the scenes never to be shot. The same physical strip of unused 35mm film is turned into a musical instrument; the soundtrack for the unseen film is produced. Santillan presents a film that documents the resulting musical score and the never-before translated script of the film.
3. Universal History of Blindness, 2016. The windows of the gallery space are dusted with ground dinosaur fossils and meteorites, creating transparent and opaque areas that playing on blindness and seeing, and re-stage an extinction event from 65 million years ago.
4. Traverse #1, Traverse #2, Traverse #3, 2016. Three narratives establish a world where apparently unconnected events are related. Unreferenced quotes belong to authors Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriela Aleman, Dante Alighieri, Thomas Pynchon, and Dylan Thomas.
5. The Enemy, 2015
The Messenger: Score and Performance – Raul Masu / Cinematography and Editing – Louis Henderson
Collaborators: Gabriela Aleman (writer, Ecuador), Orlando Inoa (historian, Dominican Republic), Salomon Kroonenberg (geologist, Netherlands), Matteo Gatti (artist, Italy), Frans Snik (astronomer, Netherlands), Maritza Alvarez (photographer, Dominican Republic), Ludo Hellemans (biologist, Netherlands), and Ana Pavlisova (translator, Russia).
Research for “Baneque” was possible thanks to a fellowship by Davidoff Art Initiative (Switzerland / Dominican Republic).
Research for “The Messenger” was possible thanks to the support of Alanica International Symposium (Russia). The research in the Caucasus succeeded thanks to the generous openness of actor Aslanbek Galaov, filmmaker Soslan Makiev, and leader of the rescue team Constantine Gerapov.
Zaratán is curated by Natasha Hoare
Zaratán is part of Para | Fictions, a cycle of sustained investigations taking as its focus the relationship between literature and visual art through the practice of six artists; Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, Mark Geffriaud, Laure Provost, Oscar Santillan, and Lucy Skaer.