Five questions for Anabell Guerrero (Matilde dos Santos Ferreira)

Here is a beautiful interview from Madinin-Art by art critic and independent curator Matilde dos Santos Ferreira: « Cinq questions à Anabell Guerrero » [Five questions for Anabell Guerrero] regarding the Venezuelan-born artist’s creative process, her 2014 series “Les Pierrotines” (on view at Fondation Clément as the installation Paysage n° 7) in the collective exhibition « de feu et de pluie » [Of Fire and Rain], on view at Fondation Clément until December 12. Other artists include Christian Bertin, Julie Bessard, Hervé Beuze, David Gumbs, Ricardo Ozier-lafontaine, and Jean-Baptiste Barret.

Interview by Matilde dos Santos Ferreira (produced by the Clément Foundation in partnership with DEAL and PNRM as part of Martinique’s application for inclusion on the UNESCO heritage list).

The title of the exhibition exhibition « de feu et de pluie » refers to two sides of the same gestation: because Martinique is indeed the daughter of the smoldering bowels of the earth and the rains caused by the relief, giving birth to humid tropical forests. Starting from the idea that the volcano impacts human life far beyond science and catastrophes, artists were asked to work on the eruptive process as a metaphor, even the essence of creation. Five works were created for the exhibition: the installations “Respé twa fwa” by Christian Bertin, “Mega-poetic seismography” by Julie Bessard, “Tellurique composition” by Hervé Beuze, “Le jour après” by Ricardo Ozier -lafontaine and the triptych “Un demiurge” by Jean-Baptiste Barret. The works of other artists were chosen based on the parallel between construction / destruction / reconstruction in nature and in human life. They speak of memory, of chaos, of spurts and tremors, of energy exchanges, of bursting magma, of scorching heat, of the state of the world the moment after.

Matilde dos Santos: Who is Anabell Guerrero?

Anabell Guerrero: I started my journey studying political science and economics. Subsequently, I trained in art history, photography and video. But my first training to a certain extent defined my path as a photographer and visual artist. I try to think of my artistic project in a commitment to humans by trying to show reality from another angle, beyond standardized forms of representation. Art is for me an act that can eventually change the way we perceive the world.

MdS: Do you think that the artist has a role to play in society and what would that role be for you?

AG: Yes it seems to me that he has a role to play in society. At the same time, society determines the way we represent, see and do art. We must therefore try to achieve a space of freedom in our practice. Thus, perhaps, it is not only society that imprints its dominant representations on us but rather, art may can help us broaden our vision. But it is never something guaranteed. At every moment our practice and our vision are called into question. The role of art in society would therefore be to open up spaces of freedom in a world where new communication technologies have an increasingly strong hold on our sensitivity and our perception of the world.

MdS: Does art heal? Yourself? the other? The world?

AG: Yes, it seems to me that art can heal to some extent. Perhaps in an indirect way, because artistic forms have a certain autonomy. It is not possible to enumerate all the possibilities that art has to heal ourselves, the other, the world: whether on the side of a political art or an art more centered on the subjectivity of the artist… there is always something that art resists and that art heals. Art opens up spaces for reverie, freedom, and combat, and these spaces are not given, they are to be conquered.

In this healing approach, I created a photography/video/light installation called Terre Inquiète. While working on concrete images signifying clues of life or death of the earth with scientists seeking to recover dying farmland, I also explored the dreamlike and imaginary aspect of our relationship to the earth. It seems to me that by bringing concrete and imaginary facts together, art can participate in its own way in forms of healing.

MdS: Tell us about your creative process and the series “Les Pierrotines,” in the exhibition « de feu et de pluie » [Of Fire and Rain] … the relationship to your previous creation, in what way they [Les Pierrotines] are new for you, and the series’ relationship to the exhibition.

AG: The series Les Pierrotines is based on an earlier project called Totems at the border, produced in the Venezuelan Guajira. It is a semi-desert place. A difficult border. At the same time it is a very beautiful region with very strong light and colors both in nature and in women’s clothes. Using fragmentation, I tried to create an abstract totemic form going beyond the scope of photography, in order to show the strength and greatness of these women. Like the Wayù women, the Pierrotines are guardians of memory and they resist in the middle of a city crossed by the memory of the catastrophe of 1902.

Among the women of Saint Peter as among the Wayù women I felt this same resistance of Memory. This is why I looked for the totemic form in both cases: like caryatids, they are in both cases pillars of their cultures. In Saint Pierre I also worked on the theme of memory in the Se Souvenir series in collaboration with the inhabitants of the city to inscribe on the walls of the ruins the living memory of the inhabitants which allows the poetic recovery of space. What is new for me in the work of Saint Peter is this very direct relationship between space and history, as well as the capacity for resilience, for a rebirth that is very present. [. . .]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full, original interview (in French), see

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