Oscar Santillán / b. 1980 Ecuador / lives between Holland and Ecuador
Any given day, you are walking down the street, the sky is open, not a single cloud in sight, and suddenly one drop of water falls on your skin. You look up struggling to make sense of where this drop of water came from. It is almost as if this drop came from nowhere, as if it has materialized on your skin without any explanation. As one can see, there is nothing “important” in this isolated drop of water; however, this miniature entity is able to disrupt the fabric of reality. I am fascinated by these “anomalies of reality”: cognitive dissonances that quietly inhabit the world, inhabit history, inhabit life itself.
By investigating these anomalies I aim to configure a different cartography of reality. This search is inherently critical as it breaks away from the building of Western knowledge, which asserts that reality is limited to binary contraries (good/evil, white/black, man/woman, subject/object), but reality exceeds the boundaries of both our cognitive capabilities and social categories, this is what in the Andean worldview is called “Oscurana”, a concept which describes the moment at dusk when the horizon line vanishes erasing the binary distinction of soil and sky into a single integrative darkness.
My latest works have clearly explored this direction, to name a few: Solaris, in which photographic lenses are made from melted desert sand, speculates about a self-conscious landscape, a landscape that is both object and subject; Baneque, in which a non-existent island sought after by Columbus is materialized, proves that an invisible land can become real; or, Phantom Cast, in which the amputated limb of a person experiencing a neurological condition called “phantom sensations” is retraced, reveals the paradoxes of the mind-body relationship.
/ BIO / Santillán studied first within the environment of Lalimpia, an artist’s collective that he co-founded in Ecuador with other artists of his generation, at a time when he was also writing narrative. He studied at ITAE and completed his BA at ESPOL (2007), and then a fellowship allowed him to move the US where he obtained an MFA in Sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University (2011). Since attending a residency at Jan van Eyck (2013-2014), Santillán has been based in The Netherlands while often working in his native Ecuador. On the past years he has also been in-residence at Delfina Foundation, UK; Fondazione Ratti, IT; Skowhegan, US; Seven Below, US; and, Leiden Astronomical Observatory, NL.
His solo exhibitions include Oscurana. Château La Borie, Solignac (2018); Mácula. MUAC, Mexico City (2017); Una Cierta Edad del Mundo. Galerie Mazzoli, Berlin (2017); Asterism. Martin van Zomeren, Amsterdam (2017); Zaratán. Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2016); The Messenger. Spazio Calderara, Milan (2015); To Break A Silence Into Smaller Silences. Copperfield, London (2015); El Triunfo del Placer. NoMínimo, Ecuador (2015); On Hesitation Marks. Kunstraum, Munich (2013); Lucerna. Fundación ODEON, Bogota (2012); Azor. DPM Gallery, Ecuador (2011); among others.
His work has been shown at group exhibitions at SongEun Art Space, Seoul; Nest, The Hague; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX; Rochechouart Musée d’art contemporain, Rochechouart; Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito; Album Arte, Rome; LACMA, Los Angeles, CA; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar; Zadkine Museum. Paris; FRAC Île-de-france, Paris; IMMA - Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Artefact. STUK, Leuven; National Dutch Dance Festival. Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht; Oud-Rekem Castle, Rekem; CAC - Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Quito; Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City; SECCA - The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem; Marilia Razuk gallery, Sao Paulo, among others.