This summer the South American artist Ana Navas is transforming the gallery into a space where the senses are awakened, where associations can bubble up to the surface and where memory is set in motion. Specially for the gallery she has created a whirling installation that has the character of a Gesamtkunstwerk. The gallery has been divided into three spaces, each with its own group of objects and its own atmosphere. Navas has turned the front area of the gallery into a Land Art space; playing in middle area is a video accompanied by the sound of pop songs from the past thirty years; and the back of the gallery is full of objects linked to Navas’s memories of her adolescence, at home in Venezuela.
Translating, interpreting and adapting are key concepts in the visual practice of Ana Navas. She questions the way in which assimilation processes take place: how a specific form or object behaves against a background of diverse fields such as politics, art and design, but also that of everyday consumer goods or primitive cultures. In what way do particular movements in art influence the language of design or the consensus as to what ‘good taste’ is?
In a new series of works, based on existing Land Art works, Navas explores the possible interpretations of what have now become classic interventions in the landscape through documentation via drawings and not, as is commonly the case, via photography. Without knowing anything about their origins, could one interpret these as Zen gardens, meditative images, teenager drawings or actual archeological sites?
The back space of the gallery is dominated by a work, papered to the wall, involving graphic patterns of texts written in the rounded handwriting of teenager girls. The texts correspond to descriptions of Venezuelan objects from the collection of an ethnographic museum. The wall work is combined with objects based on those from the artist’s parental home in Caracas. To Ana Navas these objects deal not so much with autobiographical references as with her investigation into a possibly universal quality of certain trends, as can be seen with the rather sculptural Twinphone: the snazzy telephone made by Swatch in the late 1980s and 90s, which she has reproduced in styrofoam.
While walking through the exhibition the visitor discovers, in the middle space, the source of the music that connects the various components of the Gesamtkunstwerk: a video in which Ana Navas dances with a reproduction of Bird in Space, the famous sculpture by Brancusi, while wearing a costume that takes its inspiration from the sculpture. Pop songs from the past thirty years place the whole of the installation in the perspective of time.