Los Suelos (The Soils) is the first solo exhibition of work by Ximena Garrido-Lecca in Lima. It combines three pieces that explore the memory of artisanal tradition and the abandonment of rural spaces as an after-effect of the processes of modernization. These works continue the investigation the artist initiated in 2013, through sculptures produced in metal (copper and bronze) and reed straws, intertwining the rawness of the metal with the warmth of Andean design patterns. The conjunction of both elements insinuates a permanent tension between the inheritance of vernacular culture and the new demands of industrialization, signaling the processes of violence contained in an accelerated transnational economic model in increasingly open confrontation with the protection of the environment, sovereignty, and the respect for different community lifestyles.
The video work Yacimientos (Deposits, 2013), mostly filmed in Cerro de Pasco and its surroundings, observes the traces of a city whose habitable space is continuously consumed by the expansion of an open-pit mine. The video work provides a contrast between the beauty of the natural surroundings (rock formations, small adobe ruins, “andenerias” or cultivated terraces, among others), and the physical consequences of extractive operations that slowly consume everything in its vicinity, bringing about irreversible environmental damages.
This video work records in an enigmatic and desolate style the transformation of the architectural landscape as a direct response to the demands of a productive apparatus of exploitation of mineral deposits in a city that lacks an organized urbanization model. This new hybrid architecture -adobe walls in ruins adjoining building of reflective windows, among others- attest to the cultural dilemmas brought about the social impact generated by mining in one of the few cities in Peru with a negative population growth rate.
The principal sculpture, titled Líneas de Fuga (Lines of Escape, 2014), is composed by a series of copper tubes intertwined with reed straw. The work questions the production of artisanal textiles in relation with the growing demand for a metal such as copper, highly valued for its use in technological products due to its high conductivity and malleability. Líneas de Fuga is a vertical structure that divides the space as a fence obstructing and directing the flow of viewers through the room. Its dimensions are imposing but at the same time fragile, and its precarious equilibrium seems to allude to the experience of movement through a city in which public space always results intervened and sectioned.
The second video work presented in the exhibit is Contornos (Contours, 2014), which observes precisely these forms of space demarcation and the subtle privatization process of natural surroundings. The work records different fences and barriers as found in the city: some placed in an interim fashion, others are presented as a limit between mining operations and public space, some vulnerable, and others aggressive and impenetrable. Through the span of several minutes, the camera guides us along a persistent limit of which we remain always on the outside. The audio contains excerpts of a conversation with Alcibiades Cristobal, who grew up and continues to live in the National Huayllay Sanctuary, a rock formation forest in the outskirts of Cerro de Pasco.
The soils that Ximena Garrido-Lecca records are a space of negotiation and dispute, in which the land and its layers of history are literally and continually removed in parallel to the replacement of the land-workers logic for a long process of proletarianization of the communities that inhabit the area. The works presented not only evidence the physical consequences to the terrain but also the difficulties of territorial movement for these people. Observing the effects of mining in one´s own land, and the ways in which public space is constructed and occupied works as an open question mark around the desires of an extractivist economic growth model that usually advances blind to all social and environmental equilibrium.
Miguel A. López, June 2014, Lima