Every Gesture, a form of time

/ 1 December, 2018

Glenda León is an artist who—challenging and subverting certain accepted truths—proposes forms of time. Although some years have gone by since she declared that every step, sound or flower are also temporary representations, and since then her work has derived in other sorts of aesthetic and conceptual concerns, today she still affirms that that notion crosses her practice, defining it.

Her work, which has explored dissimilar languages, could be summed up as the visual concretion of abstractions (…) and she stands out for her strangely sensorial character which many have attributed—wrongly?—to the defense of a gender-based discourse. Perhaps this is partially due to the fact that the national critics assumed her as conceptual-poetic, a denomination that actually tries to sum up an extemporaneous attachment to the meticulous execution of the pieces, a fondness for beauty, a particular sensitivity expressed without complexes or guilt and which displays a not very frequent synthesis in the Cuban contemporary art of the 1990s and the first years of the 2000s. The truth is that Glenda León, a confessed debtor of the Dadaist precepts, is above all an artist of the gesture.

Almost 20 years have gone by since the Letras Cubanas publishing house brought out La condición performática[1], a research done by Glenda León in 1999 as an academic graduation exercise for the Bachelor’s Degree in History of Art from (…). This investigation presented a critical approach to the work of the most active artists in the Cuban context of the time and introduced new notions that positioned the object and the public at the center of the creative and artistic process of the performance /and/ allowed her to approach the DUPP Gallery[2] (…). What could be identified as small obsessions repeatedly present in Glenda’s work were outlined in her research as an overt intention of resizing the object to register it in specific space-time coordinates and a will to grant spectators the creative responsibility of the generation of meanings. (…)

Her drawings—silent or acoustic—, her photographs, her visual scores, her installations and videos also contain in essence both the autonomous objectified performativeness (that which includes the existence of something material whose functioning is presented already activated) as well as the receptive performativeness (which implies a specific behavior of the receiver).[3] They are also carriers of that Dadaist displacement that transforms the original function of the object, appealing to seduction, beauty and the context in which it is exhibited as event.

However, these mechanisms for carrying out the piece remain concealed, exquisitely disguised, when fundamentally acting as tools for the translation of her own world, an interior universe that is so personal that it first requires to be interpreted and later to be shared. Perhaps that is why Glenda León turns into objects the gaps between the visible and the invisible, sound and silence, the ephemeral and the eternal. (…)

[1] León, Glenda. La condición performática. Editorial Letras Cubanas. 2001. 77 páginas.

[2] Desde una pragmática pedagógica. Proyecto de carácter pedagógico dirigido por René Francisco Rodríguez en el Instituto Superior de Arte.

[3] León, Glenda. La condición performática. Editorial Letras Cubanas. 2001. 77 páginas.

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