Artpace: What are the major themes in your work?
Adriana Corral: My installations, performances, and sculptures embody universal themes of loss, injustice, concealment, and memory. For the past five years, I have researched and conceived a body of work to explore the implications of human rights violations and bring to light the neglected narratives of disappeared and murdered Mexican women. I have mined the archives of classified documents used in international human rights prosecutions, unearthed the names of victims, and collected found material, such as soil from mass grave sites. If monuments are built to commemorate the past, to hold on to people we have lost, counter-monuments are made to disappear. Facing past atrocities, the relativity and ephemerality of my installations are attempts to achieve the same effect of a counter-monument. My work undergoes a layered process, beginning with a conceptual framework, dictated by my research.
My installations seldom crystalize into tangible artifacts. What remain are broken ceramic shards, grave earth, ash. The documentation of the process has a twofold purpose: to restore memory by acknowledging the lives of the victims and to detonate consciousness that demands justice and reparations in the present. Anthropologists, writers, journalists, gender scholars, human rights attorneys, and the victim’s families have provided me with the key data and infrastructure for the formation of my works.
AP: Tell us about the installation in this space
AC: The title, Sous Rature ‘Under Erasure,’ signifies the absence of presence and the presence of absence. The form of absence addressed in this installation is the erasure of human life and the erasure of human rights.
Invested research in the form of site-specific travel, reading material, and onsite material has shaped the work. Consulting with the appropriate field experts has enabled me to expand the use of materials and to communicate a vivid interpretation. Violations of human rights are pervasive, a cyclical pattern that unites past and present.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a response to the genocide of the Holocaust and the myriad war crimes of World War II. Its words intend but fail to stop atrocity. The casted tablets in this exhibition are embedded with its text. The first four tablets are cast with a combination of soil and gypsum, and the second set of four are casted with a combination of ash and gypsum. Through the process, the text, like people it endeavors to save, experienced erasure. This is evident as one moves from one set to the next.
The burial plot exposes the void, which exists in the aftermath of any human rights violation. This void is both absence and presence; memory is still waiting, still asking.
The nearly 500-pound bullet resistant glass confronts the transparency of protection and asks: What protection? Dependent on the time of the day, the glass will appear translucent or more reflective.
AP: What is the impact of your Artpace residency?
AC: Artpace allocates a guest curator to select three artists from the international, national, and state level with the intent to stimulate creative dialogue and a productive workspace. We artists come from different parts of the world and inlay our social political views within our work. The result is a challenging dialogue, which enhances our art.