Sebastian Gonzalez de GortariAlumnus
Two hands, clay
Two hands, clay. So simple. So incredibly complex. If I tried to describe in the most literal and objective way possible what is it that happens when two components of the human body and the product of millions of years of geological processes, condensed in a small lump of what sometimes is called dirt, converge, to accurately list and explain all the possible movements, textures, volumes and gestures that can appear through this interactions, it would take me the full extension of this essay and many more pages and words I do not dispose of. If this is a complicated, maybe already impossible task, what is to be said of the possibilities of saying something meaningful, comprehensive and clear of the natural and cultural procedures involved in the singularity, the event of Sebastián González de Gortari manipulating a certain amount and type of clay into a certain type of shape in a certain date and in a certain place? How he does what he does is itself a product of a number of phenomena impossible to count, trace or map without copious amounts of omissions, exaggerations, simplifications and falsifications.
So incredibly complicated. So simple. Around a year ago Sebastian wrote a research proposal in which he identified certain interests to be explored: the mythological thinking of pre-Hispanic cultures and how looking through that cosmovision into the present might provide fresh insights, in a broader sense the idea was to explore how can the present and the past interact and create something else. The proposal included a somewhat visual-archival practice of gathering images, pre-Hispanic and contemporary showing or representing violence, death and destruction, the theme of his sculptural creation which he now wanted to take into the next level by incorporating contemporary sculptural practices such as installation. Against the immense and yet still very tiny portion of what is contained in two hands pushing clay that I have tried to describe in the previous paragraph, this proposal seems to fall appallingly short. Short for what? For making sure that as these longing hands go into the clay, that something else which emerges keeps surprising me, frustrating me, challenging me, always guaranteeing I will go back to my harsh lover. When I touch her, in all her muddy beauty, whether I wish it or not, culture (that is, among other things, history, art, sculpture, religion, technique, politics) biography (education, emotions, ambitions, short comings, abilities, taste) and nature (sensations, perception, desire, clay) pass through me. At different times each of this undercurrents will surface with more or less strength; the better I understand them, the more conscious I am about them, the surer I can be they will act as driving forces that take me in the direction I intuit I should go.
It also means I will have the possibility to feed them with more intense and more appropriate experiences to keep them strong, or exercise distance when they grow unruly. It is necessary to develop different states of mind, different filters, by immersing myself in different situations and contexts, to deal with the different ways these phenomena burst on the tips of my fingers. The field opens up broadly, and even if many options will not be properly explored, to be aware of their existence in itself causes changes on what is actually done: to compare the Maya hieroglyphs used to label violent contexts and the language spoken by the computers that ensure that atomic missiles find their target, to learn the art of lucid dreaming so that it might generate another visual archive, to create a text that evocates and generates sculptural and personal narrative behavior in a group project, to reproduce and reinterpret every page of an ancient codex trough stop motion animation, observing all the differences created between a sculpture that moves and one that doesn’t, to create an installation taking the dimensions and qualities of an individual and unique place as the starting point that determines all the qualities of the sculptures produced…
Over 600 hundred years ago, in the tropical region of Campeche in Mexico, two hands, not so different to these, grasp a lump of clay. When my hands touch the clay, I am united with this ancient master, to understand what energies passed through his body as his fingers moved is to understand how close he and me are, and how far. This ever changing distance between misleadingly similar acts is an everlasting source of questions and inspiration. To produce the proper tools to dig into this mother load and come back with new findings is the goal and center of my research project.