WORK, by Diego Maureira.

The researcher and art theorist Diego Maureira (Chile, 1989) writes for the exhibition “Free of pain. State – Body – Eschatology “of the artists Kenji Senda and Camilo Garrido, exhibited in Panam Gallery (Santiago, Chile) during the month of October, 2018.

Kenji Senda asked me: “Would you wear a cyborg limb?” “Yes,” I said without hesitation, because I would. Kenji was stunned by my response. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but Kenji put himself back in the situation of a cyborg piece inhabiting a human body and could not contain his rejection. He didn’t know how to express why. When we arrived to Panam Gallery, there was an enormous and rusted “work and torture machine”. Torture and work in the same sentence.

Free of pain State-body-eschatology is the name of the exhibition by Kenji Senda and Camilo Garrido. A name to ask yourself where to start. I, who am lazy, prefer not to start from anywhere. I hate the exhibitions names. I only like them when they have a synchronous or active role that is exposed or happens. If not, I think it is not necessary to put names. Because today all arts are integrated, the ideal is perfectly master each of the areas that an artwork demands. Otherwise, it is advisable to prescind of anything accessory. The goal of transmodern art is not to break but to transmute. It’s strange: when the fusion of all the disciplines is allowed, nobody wants to use them badly (because they all fail trying to use them correctly!).

Even so, this name ignites a chain of signs that, interconnected, complement each other: free … pain … State … body … eschatology … It’s a kind of family tree or a cookie path. Why Kenji can’t have a cyborg limb? What’s wrong with that?

Beyond what is seen in the gallery, Kenji’s work is monotonous and repetitive. A sacrificial, slave labor, in accordance with the sculptural piece itself: a mechanical structure of work and torture for the body. Here the prosthesis acquires an absolutely oppressive character. In a physical way. Not mental or perceptive. The strength it’s submiting the body, not letting him escape, (Virtual technology allows us today to flee constantly to any place inside and outside the world: video games, social networks, etc.)

Some, like Baudrillard, categorically rejected the human entrance -submission- to the virtual reality (an issue that, in fact, is happening by leaps and bounds). Over time we have been knowing that there is not only one, but several forms of virtual reality. While these keep increasing and making contact, the more decisive will be their role in the order of human life. Is the virtual machine, focused on the senses, also oppressive?

A heavy device serves to cover the head of a person. This is his best function as an object to human eyes. Catch the body. Restrict it. Lock it up. Opress it. Crop it. Why Kenji creates this scenography, worthy of a horror movie? A scenographic art -more even than many performances- and at some point masochistic (free of pain?).

In this installation everything charges with that energy. The selfless practical utility of cardboard, nylon, and wood distances these materials, by praxis, from all conditions of prestige (although in the hyperplane era even this has tended to devalue). Doesn’t matter. These are working materials, functional, exhaustible, with no value in a sensitive order (maybe this explain the pleasure of certain artists for painting on cardboard: as if they were survivors of painting’s own apocalypse).

Kenji confessed to me that the experience of creating this machine was tortuous and exhausting. He restricted his work almost completely to just a single size of cardboard, a rather small format. With that resource and a mortar of the same material, he developed the platform that serves as the base and the columns that support the structure. The elaboration was a self-imposed and arbitrary submission. This obstinacy of art is unique: its resistance sometimes reaches an invaluable insane light, like the clumsy genius of madness or the vitality that inflicts contact with death.

A cyborg organ or limb seems very seductive to me. Alter and improve certain senses, or perceive things never perceived before. This would change a lot our understanding and behavior in the world. Everything dies, since incalculable centuries and in present time. We need tools to face the impossible. It’s logical that we tend precisely to turn ourselves in tools for our own survival.

We walk through downtown Santiago and a common instinct took us to think how nice is a sunset. We are in full spring and both concluded that the best things in life are just that simple. Receive the imposing and contemplative force of the afternoon. Everything goes away and is lost so quickly. And one is standing, observing speechless, dragged away by a wake. I commented on a Kenji that had to do with work and economics.

A technological piece can optimize the experience, expand it and improve it. Dwarf the world, capture it, retain it, encompass it, specify it, contain it. The machine corresponds to the human being. It is your only consolation and hope. Kenji, unmoved in his affection, but empathetic, conceded a partiality to my position. “I understand your point,” he told me.


About Diego Maureira (Santiago de Chile, 1989):

Lives and works in Santiago de Chile. Theorist and Art Historian of the University of Chile. Postulant to the degree of Master of Arts with a major in Theory and History of Art from the same university. Teacher in professorships of modern and contemporary art (University of Chile, Diego Portales, Alberto Hurtado and ARCIS). He had published articles in art magazines and research related to Chilean art of the last decades. Among others, he has written in the books Arte, ciudad y esfera pública (Metales Pesados, 2015), Ensayos sobre Artes Visuales. Volumen V (LOM Ediciones, 2016), De la tierra al cielo: arte, cultura japonesa y escenas locales (Editorial Filacteria, 2018) and Astrónomos sin estrellas (Ediciones Departamento de Artes Visuales, 2018).