Nature is as vast as it is impossible to be fully grasped, something that Mónica Giron’s artistic works continually explore. We could say that the matter Giron works with is universal, but that it also has a very precise location, in Patagonia, at the bottom of the South American continent, close to the poles and thereby the end of the world.
Many epochs throughout history have inscribed nature within the realm of the scientifically intelligible, yet a mystery aura may always surprise those who venture to investigate how it works. In this sense, it is larger than what we do not know. An enigma that is articulated between words and visual forms in Giron’s works. Atardecer la Hora Verde (The Green Hour Sunset) and Amanecer con Amarillos (Sunrise with Yellows), both from 2020-2021, trace these intersections in the corner of the main room of Barro gallery in New York, where Elemental Vortex is exhibited. Both works, made with oil on polylactic acid and tones that travel between greens, light blues, and yellows, feature a funnel-shape kind of structure, not with pure and flat geometric outlines, but, instead, with irregular surfaces of earth and crusts. Giron’s works have always explored textures, the thickness and roughness of natural and multiple materialities. These pieces, along with Atardecer dorado (Golden Sunset) and Amanecer con Violetas (Lillac Sunrise) from 2021, hang from the ceilings of the gallery and thus open the imagination to meteorites, craters and to fantasize about how we can imagine the reliefs of sunsets and sunrises, about how the crust of the temporal cycles and nature may look like.
Patagona Gigas, the largest hummingbird in the world, and the Albatross, a large seabird that can fly for days without stopping, inhabit different areas of South America. For these and other birds, Giron makes a series of pieces woven in merino wool as part of the series Ajuar para un conquistador (Trousseau of a conqueror), 1993 – ongoing. This series, which was part of the V Bienal de La Habana in 1994, displays small and medium-sized clothing, such as pullovers, socks, gloves, and scarves, for birds. By knitting clothes out of wool for the local birds Giron begs the viewer to ponder the relationship between native and imported animal life. Sheep were introduced to the Patagonian eco-system by Europeans in the nineteenth century. Giron was born in Bariloche, a Patagonian city in southern Argentina, a natural oasis in the midst of the current devastating ecological scenario. It is, at the same time, a place marked by the history of military conquests, dispossession, and cruelty, which continues in the present through extractivism disputes. Turning into the history of migrations and displacements, Giron finds a way to give voices to routes and paths of nature that intersect those histories and are not visible or noticeable to everyone at first glance.
“A powerful drop of water is enough to create a world and to dissolve the night,” writes Syd Krochmalny in the curatorial text in relation to the series of paintings titled Waterpockets, also exhibited at the show. These watercolors, along with the series titled SX, present diverse figures, shapes, and colors merging into infinite movements: now a submersion into an aquatic and symbiotic world. Through the exhibition, Giron’s work does not lead us to experience a linear or measurable nature, but rather to traverse it crossing its processes, plots, and what still stands as wonder and mystery in it.
Elemental Vortex is open through November 4, 2023 at Barro NYC, 25 Peck Slip, New York, NY 10038.
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Agustina Battezzati is an Argentine researcher and writer based in New York. She is currently a Phd Candidate at Columbia University working on contemporary art.