RTVE INTERVIEWS GEMA ALAVA IN NEW YORK, 2010.
“I like to work with materials which are fragile but that, if arranged in the right way, are able to transmit a strength that seems to not come from them.”
“Placing personal ideas in a way that they could not be read was such a fantastic concept, so, I took their thoughts, I wrote them down, I tore them into small pieces and placed them on the wall -- you can look at them but cannot read them. You can see the words but not the sentences.”
“It makes me think of all those things that are right in front of our eyes, maybe they are fragmented, and the only thing we have to do is take the little pieces, put them together and make the effort to want to read them.”
“I’m interested in the different interpretations people may have when they look at an art piece. There is not a single way of reading an art work.”
“To me, dialogue is very important. Talking with other artists, with people, generates ideas and with a good idea in your mind and good material in your hands is when you can work.”
“With the participation of several artists-- I asked them to give me an artwork in order for me to hide it in public spaces or place it directly in the street, where the works could be seen. This body of work is called FIND ME. Each one of these books contains photographs of the pieces that are hidden, placed in their hidden location. This one is Merrill Wagner’s painting on stone, which is hidden on the front steps of a brownstone in New York City. These are Maria Yoon’s cookies; the title of the work is Maria the Korean Bride. I saw people eating the cookies. This other piece is in New York right now. It is Paul Kos’s and is entitled Deposit. The material used for Deposit is aluminum foil, the same as we use in the kitchen, and it is placed in between the bricks of a building in New York. This artwork is Lars Chellberg’s, I threw one of his planes through a window, another one was placed on a tree, and another on a bench.”
“These pieces can be seen everyday by people in the street who don’t know that the artwork they are seeing is the same artwork they pay a ticket to see in a museum. And, yes, many of these artworks are worth a lot of money and people in the art world are asking me what’s going on with the pieces. They wonder if they have been lost. Some photographs by Arne Svenson have disappeared from the telephone posts; there is a photograph that still remains in place. Robert Ryman’s painting is in an art school in New York City, and also remains in its place.”
“Here is the information where all the pieces can be found-- I wrote the locations in a handmade book; I went to San Francisco, to the main library; I took the book that I made for the occasion with me and I placed it on one of the shelves, along with all the information letting you know where you can find the pieces. And then I left. And there it is.”
“Why does the artist go to the street, paint the street, and draw in the street... An artist’s job is to be aware of what occurs in front of our eyes, and, if we don’t have contact with what’s happening in front of our eyes, we are just losing the contact with what’s real.”
“There are people who say that there are many things in New York and it is very difficult to follow what takes place here. Everyday there are five openings or events you should go to, and that can be overwhelming. New York allows you to change worlds from one street to another. It depends on where you come out of the subway you surface in a different world. And the same happens when you go underground.”
“The body of work that I am developing right now is being made in the subway. During my subway rides I realized that those thirty minutes that I have to think without being interrupted by phone calls, texts, e-mails, ended up being a very precious time-- I am not in my home, I’m surrounded by strangers, but that creates a kind of bubble where you can concentrate and no one interrupts you. This idea of being in the subway, this scenario, is what made me want to draw. The drawings are small and are in notebooks. I go to the subway; I draw them in the subway. Some of them depict dark rooms. Why? I don’t know. What I know is that it intrigues me enough to keep drawing. Five years from now I may know why, but at the moment I don’t.”
“And one wonders why an artist who is well established, an artist whose artwork requires a high level of security when the pieces are being moved from one museum to another, why that very same artist gives you permission, says yes, and allows his or her work to travel by subway, and allows his or her work to be placed in the street.”
Gema Alava, 2010.
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