I am (not) what you see

Camouflage in Ariamna Contino’s Art

/ 1 December, 2017

The beauty of Ariamna Contino’s art could lead us to think that we are appraising an art glittering only for its unpolluted attention to details. However, after the illusion of gentleness and an analysis beyond superficial approximations, we find her virtuosity is more than mere appearance, revealing a series of meanings, key to generate the difficult journey of interpretation. (…)

Despite her youth, no doubt Ariamna is a master of sarcasm. Her art is not to be looked at with a quick guess; on a brief glance (…) Precisely, one of the features of her production is the revelation of an uncomfortable and disturbing meaning, surreptitiously behind the manual exquisiteness of fretwork paper and installations.

It seems Ariamna wants to deceive us, but nothing like that, she just wants to place us face to face with truth and secondary and apparently insignificant topics. (…) It is true that her work was initially focused on the critical evaluation of celebrated characters from music, history or politics (we see this in series like El Club de los 27, Apnea, Deja Vu, No Icons, Romance or Situación incómoda), nonetheless, her art has mutated towards new concepts focused on more general spheres of culture.

(…) With Arsenal, the two–part series (2012 to 2013 and 2013 to 2016), we witness a substantial change in Ariamna Contino’s visualization of arts. Her interest in the multiple meanings of contextualized characters or taken into a contemporary interpretation, starts focusing on a necessary and controversial issue: weapons and their reason to exist, that is, weapon’s capacity to generate violence.

(…) This series would have its visual corollary in Relicario, a series from 2015 (…) As Latin American culture is a heterogeneous mixture of borrowings, hybrid elements, appropriations, the mix of races, and in a violent framework, it is odd to see those “relics” made with luxury materials, a symbol of power. (…) One year later, the creator is still interested in exploring religion as a topic to be analyzed from many angles, without putting aside the polemics it can generate. Cuando la fe se hace inmensa is a piece of art that shows different crosses, associated to religion. The artist goes far beyond the mere compilation and presents icons subverted by different cultural groups, not necessarily
religious ones. (…) A clear example might be the cross of Christianity, which inverted is the symbol of a satanic cult.

Something similar happens with the work Dios imperfecto, where Ariamna is still seduced by the subjectivity of faith and its representation, by using crosses associated to the diversity of beliefs in the world. Every cross has been made on concrete, a harsh and coarse material, as a negative from which many wax crosses emerge (a perishable material, once the paraffin starts burning). (…)

The artist wants to invite the audience to think and question. Every matter has “another side” that is sometimes in ignorance and ostracism. No better idea to provoke an enriched interpretation, than creating a dialogue between the obverse and the reverse. (…)

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