WORLDS // by Javier Ordóñez

For Erika, fusing worlds does not mean confusing them. She believes that the living and the inert coexist, that some corpses retain some kind of life, that appliances and vegetables hold occasionally intelligent conversations, that masks could be faces, who knows. She pays attention to all the things that don’t matter and these worlds reveal the ephemeral to her with mocking show-offery. First her hand rescues them from some vague resting place, introduces them into the new society of impossible objects, tolerates their love and mingling; then her eye guides her camera lens to tell them apart, isolate the elements of complex objects, leaving them free to rebuild themselves in new spaces and gain new meanings.

Erika’s constructions are experiments and her photography documents this activity. For that alone it should be called experimental photography. Behind every object lies a different way of life, each one ages in a different way. The metal of a window frame takes on its own meaning when the glass shatters and arms come to carry it to its grave. A football, swollen sphere of boyhood dreams, gains a mouth and a smile when it is abandoned, airless and breathless, in a neglected yard. The cellulose of a thorn becomes a scaffold where plastic can settle to watch the world go by.

All her life Erika has enjoyed the mysteries of mechanisms. She tore apart her toys and deconstructed their metal hearts. She has always preferred boxes of old devices to altars to the dead. After living for a while in a land where corpses insult the living in bars, she decided to travel to a country where artefacts share citizenship with the human realm. Thus she arrived in a city that is one of the world’s bicycle paradises, populated by centaurs, part human but riding on fragile wheels. She learnt to slip through the open spaces of a place where the landscape is made up of water, earth and mist. The city taught her to look, to discover amputated objects suggesting new stories. A quick-witted mongrel, she made the city her own and set about turning elements of her new environment into protagonists of her worlds. Asthmatic cameras and the broken chains of old bicycles embrace other fragments of pre-decadent worlds and emerge from them, or melt into glass once smashed against cobble stones, or replicate the behaviour of other, vegetable lives. The underworld of the metal and rubber souls of dismantled bicycles expresses the dynamism of a destroyed city that is reconstructing itself through an imagination born of woods and lakes and regenerating itself using left over materials that survived the devastation.

The objects of a newly invented world lie before Erika’s camera. She places them there with all the care of a baroque painter preparing a still life. The difference, however, is that she gives life to things that never lived, removing obvious symbolisms. Rather than the decadence of the vanities, her spaces contain the regeneration of a new objectivity made from time and light. She observes not only glass that lets her see transparently, but also translucent plastic materials with the insolence of the quasi-eternal, and attempts to capture the subtlety of light muddied as it passes through this aristocratic rubbish. Sometimes Erika is tempted to catch these new objects in one unrepeatable image; then she delves into the heritage of wizards and turns the photograph into a unique trace, a proof of the ephemeral nature of these new identities, no less banal than those of natural objects.

In seeking witnesses for her activities, Erika’s chief ally is the sustained gaze of a mind that has always had this sole purpose, made to move and disturb. She is the one who guides us beyond the frontiers of our comfortable world, where we believe objects to be unambiguous.

If you’re looking for affiliations, it should be noted that Erika does not belong to the large tribe of widows of Frida Kahlo, but rather digs up her inspiration from the rubbish tips where forgotten toys can be found in any part of the world.

Copyright © Javier Ordóñez 2011  :_ All rights reserved