One of the most notable features of Cristina Garrido’s work is how she lays bare the disruptions and potentialities of images by leveraging the remake through explorative research or serendipity. Here, in her third solo show at The Goma, Garrido (Madrid, 1986) examines the ideological implications of the use of colour. Through a series of interventions in a selection of recent works from the History of Art, the artist focuses her gaze on the manual legacy and cultural value of certain academic-leaning practices.
Conceptual art co-opted language and photography as the fundamental mediums for its highly diverse manifestations. As Steve Edwards contended in his Photography out of Conceptual Art, the photographic documentation derived from the movement’s disciplinary eclecticism fulfilled a number of unwritten negative injunctions, namely, no cropping, no retouching, no posing or staging and no colour. By means of these particularities, applied to the works under examination, these practitioners wished to push an ideology of neutrality in which images stood as unquestionable truths, perhaps predicated on the false chromatic appearance of the legacy of sculpture and classical painting, but also reacting against the hegemony of Greenberg’s visual plasticity which still held sway during the heyday of conceptual art.
The manual component is intrinsic to the bricolage of images which is consubstantial to Garrido’s practice. Following her training in painting at art school, she became better acquainted with the canonical works of conceptualism when continuing her studies in London. Having said that, rather than prompting her to stop using manual methods, the contrast with these artistic references perhaps urged her to pay more attention to the guidelines of certain ruling doctrines. Like in childhood, before learning to draw or take photos, we first learn to colour. But colour is also often associated with certain properties historically attributed to women: the line and colourlessness assigned to reason and thought are opposed to colour as superfluous, lack of restraint and decorativeness. Colouring old photos was a task assigned to women. It is no accident that Garrido has used works that have been attributed with feminist postulates, like those by Carolee Schneemann, Yoko Ono or Fina Miralles. But she also paints works by women artists from the 1960s and 70s which protested against racial conflict and war, such as Catalysis III by Adrian Piper or Mirror Performance by Yayoi Kusama. Apart from the significance of these tenets, the artist also invites us to ironically engage with what is prejudged as superficial, by means of an edited video of popular YouTubers specialized in make-up, subtitled with slogans from Sol LeWitt’s seminal text Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. Garrido foregoes the use of sound in this film, just as Bas Jan Ader did with the inconsolable weeping in his I’m Too Sad to Tell You, in a film still retouched with acrylic in this exhibition which evokes the colour of seventies films.
The registers on which the artist intervenes in this show are paradoxically materialized in gelatin silver print, when the artists precisely from that school endeavoured to move away from the perceived academicism and formalities of modern art. Their attempt to renounce the singularity of the object and the commodification of art, the objectualization in black and white of their actions, happenings, videos or any other manifestations in fact turned them into fetish objects highly sought after in the market. Works like those by Gordon Matta-Clark, Valcárcel-Medina, Mladen Stilinović and Vito Acconci which grappled with the conventional art circuit’s exhibitional shortfallings have ended up on the walls of institutions and in private collections. In an ironic take, Garrido has respected the dimensions of the photos’ original formats. With this painterly and post-photographic body of work, the Madrid-based artist, well-versed in exposing the mechanisms that endorse and validate the art object, proposes a new ontology of the image from a respect for the twentieth-century’s conceptual vanguards while at once casting her critical gaze on time-honoured exhibition practices.
In her third solo show at The Goma, Garrido examines the ideological implications of the use of colour. Through a series of interventions in a selection of recent works from the History of Art, the artist focuses her gaze on the manual legacy and cultural value of certain academic-leaning practices.