GEMA ALAVA
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INTERVIEW with GEMA ALAVA
by
EDUARDO LAPORTE

FOR DIARIO EL CORREO, BILBAO, 2008

What does it mean to you to participate in NY Motion 1.0?

I got very excited when I was invited. Not just because of the showís concept but also because of the artists who are exhibiting here and, of course, because of the support of El Barrio Museum and the Cervantes Institute. Something like this gives you energy to keep working. The concept is great: Young artist who live in New York. There are many of us and being selected is something to be proud of. We spend lots of hours in the studio but, if people donít see what we doÖ

Emerging artist. Is it just a label?

I always ask, about that label, where are we supposedly emerging from? If we emerge from nothing, no, itís not just a label -- all of us artists who are participating in NY Motion 1.0, have shown our work in international museums and galleries; our work can be seen in very interesting public and private collections, but thereís still a lot to do. Usually you call an artist who is not yet established an emerging artist. I donít know if this is a group of established artistsÖ Iím not.

From the group of other artists who are showing with you, who would you say stands out?

I have known Teo and Ester from some time now, from when they were starting out, and it’s very exciting to see the evolution of their work and receive all their good news. Ester just had an individual show at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Abigail has shown at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. They work very hard. All of us work very hard. It is difficult to talk about a couple of artists from the show.

How do you evaluate your own work in this show?

Elvis Fuentes and Paco Cano chose my piece when they came to my studio and the critiques have been very positive.

You are presenting “Tell Me a Lie.” Why the necessity of telling lies?

You ask about the necessity of telling lies while asking an artist to explain something about a piece which has been made to be experienced on a wall… Any explanation I would tell you would be a lie. When we artists talk about our pieces during interviews we just tell you lies, one after another. I don’t think titles, or the art work, should be explained; I think they need time to be observed or experienced, and, if you can’t see them, they have to be very well described. The pieces should be able to speak for themselves-- To remain quiet would be the only truth I could tell you.

About the sentence “Tell me a lie,” I have the feeling that, constantly, we ask people to tell us lies even if we don’t call them as such. We ask “How are you?” even when we don’t want to know anything about the person we just asked. And we answer that everything is going well even when the night before we had considered jumping off a bridge… We spend most of our lives lying to one another, lying to ourselves. The interesting question would be: When or how are truths being told?

Are there exchanges, mutual enrichment, a collective awareness among the Spaniards living in New York?

I would talk about the good job that the General Consulate of Spain in New York is doing. They help us a lot and they edit a bimonthly cultural bulletin where you can follow all the cultural events of Spaniards who live in New York. It is very easy to keep track of each other this way.

What about the relationship with Latin Americans. Does it exist or are they parallel worlds?

One of the good things about New York is that there is a moment when you just stop asking people where their accents come from. Here, we are all in the same boat. You end up being a New Yorker besides being Hispanic, Latino, Latin-American or a Spaniard. We share too many things to live in parallel worlds. In fact, if you’ve ever traveled in New York’s subway, you can forget about the idea of parallel worlds.

Is NY the cultural capital? Isn’t there too much chaos, too much to offer, too much “artistic noise”?

New York, as we know, is not what it used to be, but still it has lots of things to offer. I’m staying.

Why would you recommend that an artist live in NYC?

I didn’t arrive directly to New York. I lived three years in San Francisco before that. I didn’t think I had the energy that New York requires if you want to challenge it. To those who like challenges, they should come.

Why would you not recommend it?

If you don’t limit the amount of things you want to do you, can end up with a headache.

Is there life after New York?

I hope so.

Your next illusion?

To show the new work that I’m making right now in the studio.

And the question of the house: Do you know Bilbao? Would you like to exhibit here?

Iíve never been to Bilbao, no. Of course I would love to exhibit there.

 

 



c) Gema Alava 2008