Ariel Candelario: with the house on his back

/ 13 May, 2015

A work of art can be a trigger for new social and even spatial perceptions when its relationship with space escapes to the placidity which becomes the visual fact in mere object when it is the daughter of the conflict that surrounds it and likes to externalize it. I think in this sense, the recent proposal by Ariel Candelario to present at the 12th Biennial of Havana will be one of the attractions that will signal one of our most conflicting realities; the act of occupying, inhabiting a space that determines a behaviour or state in the beings that inhabit it and perceive it.

When the name of this artist is mentioned, it is almost impossible to decouple it from LASA (Spanish acronym for Artistic Laboratory of San Agustin), space founded in 2008 with the aim of encouraging artistic experimentation and interventions in public space. From its inception to date, always in collaboration with Aurélie Sampeur, the project has hosted numerous Cuban and foreign artists offering residences and stimulating curatorial projects. It is also, from the peripheral location where it is, a space of cultural diffusion and integration for its inhabitants.

Ariel Candelario’s work has been gestated from LASA, given his desire to burst into the social sphere and his condition to generate conflict; questions that strictly transcend aesthetics. E14 Lam is the title of the piece that will be located at Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center during the Biennial; from the initial label the artist encourages the juxtaposition of identities, inserting a marginal space on a site paradoxically dedicated to legitimization.

The E14 model buildings, in which the piece is based, were an alternative used after the triumph of the Revolution to meet the demand for housing, taking constructive models of Eastern Europe and adapting them to the climate of the tropics. The result was a set of settlements of unitary and impersonal visuality, located in Havana’s areas such as Alamar, Guanabacoa and San Agustin where the prefabricated space becomes social otherness, in mutation and extension of human being. Candelario uses this conflict, giving it a building the category of sculpture, moving the locus, but taking a load of subordination on it.

The piece, difficult to carry out because of its structural peculiarities, was conducted by a multidisciplinary team including engineers, architects and constructors dedicated to its projection and assembly. The artist has tried to respect the actual dimensions of the model, looking for the work to be not only an appropriation of the object but a reinterpretation of it, where its visual values are categorized. Thus the work will consist of four floors and more than eleven meters high.

But Candelario is not interested in encouraging a contemplative stance on the receiver, but the opposite, he tries to activate an interaction with him where he is also part of the intervention process. Thus, the first floor will be habitable and will be decorated with furniture and will even have a TV showing the programming of MACSAN (Contemporary Art Museum of San Agustin). The remaining three floors will be dedicated to exhibitions of works by Candelario, who will present drawings that serve as documentation of the process of conceptualization and design of this piece, in addition to make visible the work of other artists.

The building responds to an aseptic visuality and is entirely painted in white. As in many urban areas, the structure will have a brief recreation area which includes the ubiquitous Marti bust that distinguishes the gardens. The artist not only takes the reference, also portrays social dynamics that can be seen in any neighbourhood; reworking the topic is so physical and sensorial.

Given the growing doubts about whether we are really witnessing a building or a sculptural installation; it seems accurate the proposition of the creator himself, his “aparturas” –conjunction of building and sculpture-, do not respond to a unified classification and certainly they neither deserve it. It is a combination of environment, performance, installation, etc.; but beyond a classification, the work demands a certain context, a spectator who knows or firsthand suffers the dynamics and shortcomings of Cuban daily life.

After the Biennial it is planned to do an auction to sell the “aparturas” which can be disarmed with own autonomy and can be transportable and emplaced elsewhere. This is bringing anywhere a slice of periphery, of social truth; as the piece comprises that the fact of BEING not only presupposes a physical state but also a mental one.

E14 Lam proposes a spatial concept where the ultimate aim of the intervention is not to dynamite the public space, but to give it justice and turn it into the break itself. I think Candelario´s work, with its unusual clarity, offers another angle of the creative structure.

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