Screenshot 2014-06-18 15.46.33

Artist: Amalia Pica

One Thing After Another
June 5 – August 17, 2014
Curator: Sophie Kaplan
La Criée Centre for Contemporary Art
Rennes, France

Argentinian artist Amalia Pica‘s first solo show in France is a continuation of a project begun at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City in the summer of 2013. At La Criée she is presenting a group of sculptures and a new film in which she pursues her formal and political exploration of mathematical set theory. Pica’s works suggest systems of exchange, transmission and reception of information, at the same time as they offer a fresh reading of the avant-gardes and abstraction.

The issue of communication—of the statement and the performativity of verbal and non-verbal language—is a core concern for an artist committed to exploring its systems and modes of functioning. Through sculpture, photography, installation, performance and video, her work sets out to define the communicational codes we share beyond the barriers of language.

At the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 Pica presented Venn Diagrams (under the spotlight), a projection of two coloured circles inspired by the set theory John Venn developed to describe the logical-mathematical relationships of inclusion and exclusion. The Venn diagram reference is especially significant for this artist: under the 1976–1983 dictatorship in her native Argentina the diagrams were banned from the school curriculum on the grounds of their subversive potential for instigating group dynamics and expressions of collectivity. Thus her work foregrounds the inherent political aspect of information exchange.

Since 2013, first at Museo Tamayo in Mexico with the exhibition ABC, then at Herald St Gallery, London, Kunsthalle Lisbon, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and now at La Criée, Rennes, Pica has been replaying the issues raised by Venn’s diagrams. For ABC she arranged coloured geometrical plexiglas shapes along the gallery walls: the exhibition was regularly activated by performers who brought the shapes together at the centre of the space, held them up in a way that gave rise to certain combinations, put them back in a different place, and then repeated the exercise forming a new composition.

Photographs and a film resulted from these performances, and the film is being shown at La Criée together with a group of sculptures specially made for the exhibition. A joint venture with Mexican filmmaker Rafael Ortega, the film shows the shapes at rest, their slow activation by the performers and then the way they are combined, making up a new ‘sentence’ each time. As an attempt to start at the crucial point (the intersection) the two screens projection starts with such close angles of the shapes that the narrative appears extremely abstract and it slowly unveils the performance as the zoom travels outwards.

The sculptures—metal structures with the same coloured Perspex shapes suspended from them—are memorials of the different compositions formed by the performers in the film. Functioning as ‘fixatives’ of the shapes meetings, these visual statements form possible interpretations and narratives. Moreover the series synthesises many aspects of the history of abstract sculpture, including Minimalism, Kinetic Art and Constructivism.

Amalia Pica‘s exhibition at La Criée is a wordless narrative, an invitation to reflect on the construction, composition and effectiveness of all narrative and all language: in short, a visual semiotics.

Amalia Pica is born in 1978 in Neuquèn, Argentina. She lives and works in London.

Image: Amalia Pica, “Memorial for intersections #2″(detail), 2013. Courtesy Stigter van Doesburg, Amsterdam; Herald St., London; Johann Koenig, Berlin; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles. Photo: Bruno Lopes.