The formal naiveté and playful character of Pilar Quinteros’ works conceal an astute and sensitive articulation of complex issues that are related to the inherent histories and dynamics of the places where she intervenes. Generally making works for public spaces, her pieces benefit from this apparent formal innocence to involve passers-by on issues linked to social, economic, and political processes that permeate the site’s history and connect them to more comprehensive and complex urban dynamics.
Although Pilar is fundamentally driven by a great curiosity and affective relationship with the places where she operates, one could also interpret her work as an instinctive reaction to the socio-spatial effects of the urban “functionalism” brought about by Chile’s “economic boom”. It resulted in an accelerated mutation of cities, a process that has not only put in crisis their architectural heritage, but has also fragmented and decimated a set of communitarian memories associated to buildings and spaces that no longer exist. The uneasiness caused by this experience has carved recurrent features in Pilar’s work, based on the dichotomies between: absence and presence; construction and destruction, and between what existed and what was only imagined.
These concerns are tested and communicated through a direct and often unauthorized action in the public space. The artist chooses (spatial and temporal) gaps of the city, its voids, interstices and absences. There, she reconstructs missing urban elements; duplicates existing ones; reconstructs large fragments of buildings that have already been destroyed or never completed and puts them where they would have been; builds 1:1 scaled prosthetics for semi-destroyed buildings; invents traces of other times and civilizations and juxtaposes them with today’s spaces; as well as so many other operations that are in a limbo between fact and fiction, between a rigorous research and a great dose of poetic freedom.
In the construction of her pieces Pilar uses common materials that are easy to handle with her own hands, such as cardboard, plastic and fabric. For the artist it is extremely important to have a total involvement in the manual making of her works. This commitment ensures that the work’s final form carries her unmistakable personal calligraphy. The formal pulsation given by their manual construction brings her sculptures closer to her drawings, the basic tool of her entire creative process, so the work ends where it begins, completing a full circle. The construction of her large-scale pieces is almost entirely carried out in the studio and these are subdivided into smaller parts, which facilitate their making, transportation and assembly outside. By bringing together friends and volunteers to help her carry the various pieces through the streets, until the determined place, and to assemble them together, the artist transforms a practical inevitability into an allegorical and disruptive event of the city’s daily flux.
Throughout this process video is a central element, not only because it documents all stages of the work but because it is a personal record of the artist’s endeavors. This documentation has a great affective meaning for Pilar, especially because almost all of her works are fleeting, being easily destroyed due to the fragility of their materials and construction. The inherent (self)destruction of the works, performed in the public space, contradicts the didactic and demagogic logic of monuments and of the built heritage. It also challenges the illusory idea of permanence that they preconize putting it against the volatility, mutability and perishability of Man-made spaces and structures.
Bruno de Almeida | 2017.03.12