Nomad Patterns

Livia Marin, Nomad Patterns | Patrones nómades, 2009-2012
Eagle Gallery, London


Livia Marin. Artist's statement. Livia Marin is a London-based Chilean artist whose work has been characterized throughout by large-scale installations and the appropriation of mass-produced and mass-consumed objects. Her work was initially informed by the immediate social and political context of Chile in the 1990s that amounted to a transition from a profoundly overt disciplinary regime (given by seventeen years of dictatorship) to an economically disciplinary regime with a strongly developed neo-liberal economic agenda. She employs everyday objects to enquire into the nature of how we relate to material objects in an era dominated by standardization and global circulation. In this, the work seeks to offer a reflection on the relationship we develop with those often unseen objects that meet our daily needs. Central to the work is a trope of estrangement that works to reverse an excess of familiarity that commands the life of the everyday and the dictates of the marketplace.

Inova: The Object and Its Manifestation, 2007
Livia Marin. Artist Statement. Things make their Appearance. For a senior generation of progressive Chilean artists the grand narrative of their work was never in doubt. For those that came after by a generation or two the question has been more equivocal. How does one make art from the relatively banal facts of an everyday, no longer set against the backdrop of tragedy and loss: of torture and the disappeared? How does one engage with an audience in a consumerist global market place for art? These are the questions that situate the practice of my studio.
If it is the role of the economist, the politician and others to consider questions of mass production, it is, perhaps, left to the artist – the artistic community – to consider and reflect on the question of mass consumption: to consider the ‘consumption' of art in a world where mass consumption has become hyper-aestheticised but equally passive: where the object is subsumed under the brand, falls under the sign of the brand, and is thereby incidental, disposable – at the very least, interchangeable. How then does an artist flag up the quidity of things in their thingyness? How does an artist create the unique that does not lose sight of the everyday that is our shared experience? Which is to say, how does an artist occupy and share a space with an audience on common terms and yet, withal, extends or heightens that experience?
My work negotiates with these issues: neither to ignore them, nor to acquiesce to the economy of this marketplace, nor to parody that consumer market as a given of irresolvable difference. Yet my work does make play with the banal, the everyday, the serial production. Perhaps I can say: my work adopts the everyday when it has out-lasted its use value or its economic exchange value. That might be a starting point. Lipsticks when they have become useless stubs: disposable plastic cups, crumpled and discarded. And then there have been bottle tops and flowerpots and neglected things that no marketeer will ever make chic or sexy. There is the trace of humanity in these mere things: handled, then used up, close to exhaustion or extinction. Something of this sort of ‘mereness,' just the physical weight of things, was part of Minimalism's agenda. Their radical reduction of form, which broke with the mirroring of nature in artistic practice, left the viewer with only the narrative of a place: the “field,” as we have come to know it 1. It was as if we were thrown into a strange square world where the viewer was thrown back on his/her own resources. So then my work begins. I want to throw the viewer back into the world of the everyday: I want to present, aesthetically, the pathos of the everyday and thereby claim a certain freedom or detachment from that pathos: a different address to that pathos.
I work as a sculptor. That is to say, I work within the formal discipline of manipulating objects in space. If a work succeeds it is because formal considerations have been translated into practical techniques for the manipulation of materials. My departure from traditional sculptural practice is in the materials that I use and the adaptation of existing techniques to the requirements of those materials. As we have seen, these materials are adopted from the everyday: not quite ready-mades, but something like. This in turn calls for a further departure from traditional practice that might best be thought of in terms of the difference between ‘field' and ‘perspective.' With a perspectival approach the viewer is assigned a point of view by the work itself: but it is an empty place, an ideal standpoint, without respect to who that viewer is as an individual . That perspectival point of view supposes understanding to reside in the work at the behest of the artist: in terms of its meaning, it presumes a single and one correct interpretation of the work. In a field we wander: we chose: we are “nomadic.” 2The work occurs, in that it occurs to us: it is left open, susceptible to, vulnerable to, the play of possibility in its engagement with the viewer.
While I recognise that my work will inevitably be thought through discourses of ‘repetition' and ‘the serial,' my own intentions aim for something more humane, more sensual and immediate. Which brings me, finally, to an aspect of the work, El objeto y su manifestación , here at INOVA. A veil of inattention characterizes everyday life. This work seeks gradually to withdraw that veil. Here scale and the chromatic effect of the differing shade of white play their part. For what the viewer is first presented with is an overall ‘shimmer' rendering, for the moment, the individual objects indistinguishable. There is an immediate play on the senses. It is only after a further engagement in the ‘field' that the nature of the individual objects becomes apparent. Working in this way, I would like to think the work acts as a guide to meaning, interpretation, understanding and so forth rather than as the administrator of one received idea and in that way turns outwards again to the world we live in: to return a sense of value to the everyday.
1 See Rosalind Krasuss' ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field' in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (MIT Press:1986)
2 See Gilles Deleuze, Diffrence and Repetition , pp.45-50, on “univocity” and “nomadic distribution” (Continuum: 2004).

It's Nice That, 2009
Hi Livia, your new show looks really interesting – can you tell us a little about what you do and why you’ve decided to exhibit the pieces you have?

I pursued an art career in Chile. I have exhibited widely both in Chile and abroad (Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, USA). I have lived and worked in London for five years and am currently completing a practiced led PhD programme at Goldsmiths College. Regarding my practice and this specific show, Broken Things, is a project I have been developing during the last two years and inquires into the issues of brokenness and recuperation. For the wall piece I’ve appropriated the museum style of restoration which pieces together existing fragments with blank sections to recover the full form of the original. The industrial production of mass-produced pottery used transfer printing for decoration.

The other works in the show somewhat parody this technique by a kind of slippage, which puts the integrity of the object in question.

The sculptures are all interpretations of everyday objects – what fascinates you about them?

In broader terms, in my artwork I use themes such as the serial, repetition and estrangement of what is familiar. In this sense I have a particular interest in the everyday, specifically in the material objects that give shape to it. What fascinates me about everyday objects are the traces of humanity that are lodged in them and which it is possible to bring to the fore in art. These traces embrace both their processes of making or construction and the daily use-relationship we establish with them.

In this particular show, the figure of something broken is what hinges that relationship: when something breaks it goes out of use, it can be discarded, but it might enter a new phase of signification if its owner has a strong attachment to it. It’s that moment of decision or indecision that interests me and that I try to recreate by building the object as an ambiguous figure. Within this, it is important that I have worked with mass-produced, non-noble objects, whereby things that were not important in the first place achieve a value or significance by the attachments that people form with them.

How do you go about making each piece? Do you use existing objects or start from scratch?

I do both. For some pieces I build them from scratch, and others I start from alerting already existing objects. For example, the piece that it is formed by a series of broken cups, bowls and the like is a combination of both methods: the broken objects that we can recognise, are actual objects that you can get from the market, and the, so to speak, formless part of the object which is attached to it I have made from scratch. For the applied decoration I have used a number of techniques, running from silkscreen, transfer-printings, and commercially available patterns that I re-work digitally. For some objects I have repeated the existing pattern, and for others I have decorated both parts from scratch.

Artishock, 6.11.2012
La artista chilena residente en Londres, Livia Marín, ofrece hoy una conferencia que provee un recorrido visual y analítico en torno a los conceptos de repetición y extrañeza ligados al uso de objetos cotidianos en trabajos de arte, y que particularmente han caracterizado su práctica artística. La artista define su obra, a grandes rasgos, como una inquietud de transformar objetos producidos en masa con el objetivo de indagar en cómo nos relacionamos con lo material en una era dominada por la estandarización, el consumo y la circulación global. A través de una descripción y análisis de su propio trabajo, Marín dará cuenta de cómo su obra busca revertir el exceso de familiaridad que caracteriza tanto la vida del día a día como los dictados del mercado.

Christopher Jobson, Melting Ceramics by Livia Marin, thisiscolossal, 17 July 2013
When dropping a ceramic plate or cup we’ve all braced for the familiar sound of impact as the object explodes into a multitude of sharp fragments on the kitchen floor. Artist Livia Marin imagines a wholly different demise for ceramic bowls, cups and tea pots in this series of work titled Nomad Patterns.
Inexplicably, each piece seems to melt onto a surface while strangely retaining its original printed pattern. The designs are actually a Willow Pattern motif, a pastiche of Chinese landscape decoration created by an English man in the 1790s “as if” it were Chinese. She adds via email that the objects “appear as staged somehow indeterminately between something that is about to collapse or has just been restored; between things that have been invested with the attention of care but also have the appearance of a ruin.” The 32 objects were on view at Eagle Gallery in London in 2012.

gessato, 7.2013
In the advent of summer’s heat wave, ice cream isn’t the only thing that is melting. Artist Livia Marin explores the transformation from solid to liquid in Melting Ceramics. The cold fragile pieces are shown in mid-transition, as puddles of white porcelain decorated with Willow patterns in classic blue and burgundy details. The appearance of ruin creates a new opportunity for creation, as Marin is able to highlight the formal qualities and interiors of the ceramics by “melting away” some of each piece. The collection of bowls, cups, and tea pots in their hybrid state are fascinating in their construction and their purported liquidity.

paulasworld, 12.2013
Livia Marin presents objects from the series Nomad Patterns, in which the ceramic seems to have been arrested mid-melt, or knocked over only to spill instead of breaking, and then retained an improbable continuity of pastiche Chinese pattern. That poses questions of literal and metaphysical weight. Is that china or water? A destruction or a restoration? Casually playful or threatening instability? Our judgement is likely to be affected if we know that much of Marin’s work deals with breakage and repair in the context of seventeen years of oppressive dictatorship in her home country of Chile… Technically, by the way, Marin buys plain white vessels, smashes them, creates the spill, then paints the matching pattern across both.

freshome, 2.2014
Nomad Patterns is a strange art collection designed by Chilean artist Livia Marin. It consists of pieces of ceramic: cups, vases and teapots – to be more specific, that melt into puddles, yet retain the original printed patterns. At the first glance, it seems a pure expression of destruction. Something like an act of dissolving a complex and unitary artwork. Naturally, after a brief analysis, one gets to understand the true significance of the alluring gesture of “damaging” the objects. The artist wanted to show that broken china can be beautiful and well, useful. The peculiar liquification defines the elaborate design.
Now, imagine having such an item decorating your home. To me, this feels a little bit like an ambiguous “Alice in Wonderland” reinterpreted scene. “The objects appear as staged somehow indeterminately between something that is about to collapse or has just been restored; between things that have been invested with the attention of care but also have the appearance of a ruin.” The collection, comprising 32 items, was exhibited at Eagle Gallery in London.

Livia Marin
Quiebre y Derrame
House of Propellers
It's Nice that
Nature Morte 2010
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