Works / Constructing Perpetuity

Contructing Perpetuity 2007

– A journey through landscape.


Installation in wood and textile 5 x 7 meters.

In between sublime and political
– the art of Paula Urbano

At first glance it looks like a woman who is running away from something but getting nowhere. The laced white dress and the sublime landscape indicates an innocence as in 19th century Romanticism, but there is a lot more. What is this character escaping from holding a brick in the hand? Paula Urbano´s photos, films and installations relates to her personal experience of having to grow up in between one culture and another. Her parents left Chile as political refugees and Urbano was born and grew up in Sweden. Her works rests upon an awareness of how identity, ethnicity and sexuality is constructed. In the photo series Constructing Perpetuality (2007) and No Title (2007) this is pictured as a dreamlike vision even though some of her earlier works like Quien es Paleta? (2003) and Her Life (2006) has a more documentary style. Paula Urbano works in the tradition of staged photography where her characters is carrying double meanings. For example looking closer at some of the photos in Constructing Perpetuality we see a man in the white dress, not a woman as the convention says. And the brick, why a brick? As a construction material it has to do with building, not just constructing a new house but a new life in a new continent. The persons in the dress all represents diverse experiences of traversing the unknown while carrying a heavy burden. Urbano stages them in three different environments indicating journeys; railway tracks, a bridge and the sea, but no vehicle is present. Just the nature, the person in the dress and a piece of infrastructure. In her graduation show from Konstfack, University College of Arts Craft and Design in Stockholm Urbano installed the photos in large scale format in a grey wooden construction that reinforced the impression of isolation and gave the pictures a space within the space. As in many of Caspar David Friedrich´s paintings we see the same beautiful landscape and longing figures but Urbano wants to do more than just depicting people´s contemplation of nature. Beyond the sublime we see a political aspiration and a wish for change.

/Caroline Elgh

Text written for Irreversible Magazine Edition 20 see published in 2011.

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