Last year (2020) was the year in which everything stopped and in which some things became evident, others decanted and even many emerged. In the field of art, isolation was a motor but also a paralyzing agent. It meant, while throwing up an absence of meaning. In this context, the work El Corral by Mariana Ticheli arises, an artist trained in dance, acting and performance in different parts of the world: from Mendoza, her birthplace, through Barcelona and Salerno, to Buenos Aires, where she currently resides in the neighborhood. The Paternal. In her works, not only her body is the support of the productions, she also explores different techniques such as illustration, painting and collage.
Her work El Corral, selected by the III Video Encounter, organized by Umbral Espacio de Arte and Mundo Performance, is carried out under the guidelines of an autofiction that explores the “state of permanence” experienced during 2020. This autofictional genre wavers between the worlds of the novel and autobiography, where the limits between the real –autobiographical– and the fictional –novelesque– are blurred. In moments of crisis and uncertainty, when something changes the course of what was planned, we are involved in a feeling of unreality, a paradox where apparently contradictory elements inhabit. It is in this sense that an exact correspondence between this work and the context in which it was produced is detected.
Sofía Jacky: At one point you referred to this confinement and pandemic context as a state of permanence that resembles a rebirth or flourishing. What things surfaced in this state of permanence and what did you come across?
Mariana Ticheli: I think that what happens with permanence is a state or sensation of stillness, where everything that is spinning in the body or mind falls … which has clear weight. And I think you find yourself with life, I mean with the everyday, with the day to day: waking up, breathing, eating, sleeping … and sometimes that costs. Also in the middle of this transit, memories, people and conversations appear. Like my maternal grandmother, almost like a ghost … beautiful present spectrum. She would have turned 100 in August 2020, and I wondered who my grandmother would have been if she had had the opportunity to live in another context, in another place, in other circumstances. I wondered things that hadn’t occurred to me before: I wondered if my grandmother ever danced.
Also contacts with loved ones, those conversations through the computer. For example, in the middle of a video call my mother told me that when I was a baby I covered a tear duct and I cried without tears and with my eyes open. I thought “how crazy to cry with open eyes” and that image of very large, open and glazed eyes came to me. I thought of that image: glazed eyes, filled with water. And I asked myself: can I cry without tears?
In the midst of all this permanence, my father also appears, he told me that he was taking keyboard classes, but that in this context he had to fail, so he bought an instructional book with piano lessons printed on paper. Every so often he sends me audios, where you can hear him clumsily playing the happy birthday melody.
All this pierced me and came to light to become a work.
SJ: In El Corral there are contradictions: happiness and anguish, exploration and confinement. It reminds me of a phrase by Tanizaki in The Eulogy of the Shadow that says: “… he has been forced to make a virtue out of necessity.” In the creative process there is sometimes a sublimation of reality. Do you think something similar happens in this work?
MT: Totally, I want to say it is a reflection of the reality and emotions traveled, where I capture my shadows, I offer them and I expose them with freedom. These stories that cross me, intersect and dialogue with the current context: a virus that seems to come to make visible the inequality of opportunities that always existed in our country. Last year a social reference from Villa 31, Ramona Medina, was infected and died, days before she was demanding drinking water in the neighborhood. Ramona, 42, was a diabetic and insulin-dependent patient and was infected, was hospitalized in serious condition and died on May 17 at the Muñiz hospital in the city of Buenos Aires. That’s when I ask myself again if I can cry without tears or if I can dance sadness.
All these stories, thoughts, events penetrated me in those months and I felt the need to do. That impetuous and voracious need.
SJ: In a writing about the play you mention the baby playpen and how it prevents exploration, so necessary to recognize the limits between the body and external agents. I think of the idea of ??confinement but also of the idea of ??protection and shelter involved in this type of corral. Does the body in this work develop in a state of confinement or shelter?
MT: I think that this work is developed in a state of total protection and care, as in most of the works that I do. Beyond exposing states or emotions that socially are not well seen (it seems that it makes it uncomfortable for someone to talk about death, sadness, anguish, melancholy) my body is always in a state of care, it is my work tool and I want to use it much longer.
SJ: In El Corral there is only one body that is limited in a space, it is isolated. How does performance deal with the “limit” in this case?
From the beginning I took it as a self-fiction in video art perhaps. Like a solo job without an audience because of the real context I was going through, in which I was at home without seeing other people. I raised it from the beginning like this. If they are different things: when you act live with spectators, a strong round trip of energy is generated, if people speak, if they are in silence … if it is part of the action that is proposed.
SJ: How do you feel about this video art format, do you think it is a powerful resource for future productions or would you prefer to return to contact with the public?
MT: What a good question! I am immersing myself in this format of video art or self-fiction and it seduces me a lot … this way of composing has me dazzled, in fact I am in two more projects with other artists. I believe that it is very visible in this area to have a work team, collaborators, co-creators, filmmakers. At this moment we are finishing the edition of “Liquid Extensions”, (it is a work that was done on March 6 at El Local, with a live and direct audience) the audiovisual version running along a hybrid line and with installations by visual artists . You will be able to see installations of “Aguas inferiors” by Alejo Arcuschin and “Mitze” by Juan Miceli playing with projections plus a body that operates through space. As for the contact with the public, it will surely continue: the experience of live and direct with the public around it is a very powerful energy that I consider irreplaceable.