Sabrina Amrani announced the incorporation of Edison Peñafiel to the gallerys roster of artists, and presents his online exclusive solo show Sempiterno
Born in Ecuador in 1985, Edison Peñafiel migrated to the United States to leave the political and economic instability of his native country. His singular style integrates video and multimedia installation to create surreal echoes of our world, environments that translate experience. His work centers the migrant as a subject, informed by his own life.
Sempiterno starts with Edison Peñafiel's attempt to create an art piece away from politics, from social criticism, in a way opposed to the rest of his works. "Somehow, the unconscious ends up bringing politics and social reality to my head again", explains the artist, because the result is, at the end, more social than ever, if possible.
On a black background that frames various screens of different sizes, a collection of characters strives to carry out apparently absurd actions, without any sense, within a painted, distorted and mechanical world. A man spins a cube that has been put on his head, a strangely dressed woman bends down to pick something up, two faceless characters come and go, another man in heels carrying an old fan, manually operates their blades, a woman goes up and down two steps that lead nowhere... There is some inspiration in German expressionism", explains Peñafiel. I like to play with the paradox, the contradiction: it is a camera work and the lens are supposed to capture the evidence, a symbol of presentation of reality. However, what I shoot is an artificial reality, created by me, surrealist, specifies the artist. We know that images are made up, crazy, but we can believe them because they have been captured by a device that does not lie. Are we talking about manipulation? As Peñafiel expresses in several occasions, "the conversation starts here", its a way for dialogue.
Peñafiel's vision inevitably infers, through these images, on the programming of the human being within society. Each of the characters performs a sterile activity, for no apparent reason, like a life sentence. And it does it infinitely, in a clock run that is determined, in addition, with the "tick-tock" of time. The clock is related to Pavlov's Classic Conditioning", explains the artist: "It is the bell that tells us how many hours of work, how much money we earn...
It is also as if these characters were paid to do what they do, like someone who goes to a factory to work, to university or to perform a role as a group member. Despite everything, Peñafiel does not try to criticize society, he only leads to questioning everything, why, even going through the conditioning of free will, of freedom. Yes, we are free to do whatever we want, even nonsense things, but deep down it is still programming within a connected society. Peñafiel talks about the information, or lack of it, that is transmitted from generation to generation, of actions that we inherit and repeat until there comes a time when we forget even the reason why we do them. And he does it symbolically through bigger and smaller screens, until we get to the last images that, finally, are blurred, perhaps because of that forgetfulness. Furthermore, everything is interconnected. "In the installation you can see, exposed, the cables that connect it and connect everything", points out Edison Peñafiel. This helps to identify the concept of alienation of the characters: "They are trapped in that system, with no possibility of leaving it," he explains. And at the same time, also, isolated in useless tasks, trapped in a time loop, within their different realities.
Sempiterno seems particularly relevant and topical in the times of confinement we are living, in a vision of repeated actions day after day, of clocks and schedules marking our behaviors, a vision of isolation, alienation, confusion, image and information manipulation: It is as if each of the panels was a building and in it, we could observe what isolated people do at home. Now we see a lot of programming within all the things that have been imposed on us. And those that are going to be imposed on us after confinement, predicts the artist who, finally, alerts to the spy state model in which the Government carries out exhaustive or panoptic surveillance of the population.