Río Seco

January 30 to
March 10, 2020


One of the most significant work paradoxes that Paula Cortazar pres-
ents in Rio Seco is the shape-shifting of the stones, her sculpture material, through the constant water movement that crashes against them. The repetition of the blow has been inscribed in these particular forms: The stones have lost their sounds and have rolled downstream to be, for the moment, still. Once in their stillness, they will continue to suffer erosion. Running water, absent water, water that creates silence in the landscape, which should be sonorous. Time and its random mechanisms: a dry and noiseless river. The paradox to which I refer to is linked to water, time, movement and its journeys. These elements constitute the first modeling of the stones. Paula will work from this first action and will continue with others from her personal choice.


Since I first saw Paula’s work, it called to my attention the way in which
the processes of appropriation, of the stones and landscapes, go through material mechanisms and observations that were not common at the time of the realization of the piece (characterized by an overproduction of assemblies and collages made from materials recollected mainly in urban environments). Paula distances herself from this methodology and, in the distance, rethinks several aspects that turn out to be revealing for the process of contemporary art. These processes can be cataloged in two main fields. First, the space where the work takes place and, second, the strategies that allow the appropriation and the intervention of the found/collected stones. How do we create tension between nature, landscape, and appropriation?
How can distances be shortened between objectual narratives (each
stone ́s narrative) and places as containers of formal and conceptual experiences? Being there is traduced in transformative action, in bodies that exert a relationship of strength, tension, and pressure. There is a latent vigor that reveals its presence and the calm of the dry river can
be broken at any moment – it has been broken and hurricanes have manifested (Gilberto in 1988 and Alex in 2010). From that condition, silence is tension and calm a kind of pause, a murmur. The sound of the moto tool bursts and the shapes, again, are imposed on the stones.


Working from nature and making the way of inhabiting it more com-
plex, Paula generates a specific relationship with the landscape. As for its link with time, it reminds me of several artists of land art, there is brevity in the action on the stones, then a withdrawal. Open space to erosion, include it in the process. It moves away. Look at the surroundings. Notice also how his subjectivity is imprinted on it. And their time is always unstable, like the light. Some intervened stones will remain there, they will remain part of the environment. They have not moved, temporarily becoming the support of the drawing. If Peter Fischli and David Weiss stacked and balanced large-format stones, modifying the poetics of the landscape, Paula has decided to operate with light and subtle interventions that the visitor will find in his relationship with the place. If Jimmie Durham made stones a kind of tool for modeling certain household objects (St Frigo, 1996), Paula exerts a force on them: she polishes them, makes incisions, lifts them slightly off the ground, observes them in the landscape, with the landscape and the gaze becomes photographic action.

Between the object and the image or, in other words, between the sculpture and the photographic act, Paula’s work processes suffer an important location. It is not immediacy but the observation that becomes the other moment in which your speculations materials will be put into play and will have to suffer a kind of metamorphosis. Thing and image they separate and become autonomous, from there they will have to realize each of their potential and her strength. If one looks at his photographs – for example, El cañon de la Huasteca,, a piece of
2019–, there is a strong commitment in relation to what this image is. A
commitment also with the way in which it could exist beyond and from
the long intervention process that The stone, almost to the center of the frame, has suffered through its main drawing tool: A moto tool with a diamond tip. The other components of the image are equally significant: bushes, mountains as a backdrop and a sky of 18:45 in Huasteca. Sculpture and drawing have given way to the photographic image, there is no record but an action that It reveals Paula’s visual interests and her need to generate an image.

I will end with an anecdote: A few weeks ago, I received a message
from Paula still startled with the news that one of the medium-sized
stones that she worked on and left in the neck of the Santa Catarina River had disappeared. The news seemed much more than an anecdote. Paula carried out an action that sought to subjectify the environment by drawing on the stones, an action that would contribute something and generate certain strangeness in the landscape. They,
(must have been more than one person) when they took the stone (or should I say the piece?) was an act of violent irruption, like those characteristics of our times.