Geometric​ ​Dancer​ ​Doesn’t​ ​Believe​ ​in​ ​Love,​ ​Finds​ ​Aspiration​ ​and​ ​Ecstasy​ ​in​ ​Spirals.

​ ​Solo​ ​exhibition
by​ ​Mercedes​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​at​ ​SlyZmud​ ​gallery,​ ​Buenos​ ​Aires.​ ​May-June​ ​2016.

Text​ ​by​ ​Daniela​ ​Brunand

“Woman,​ ​for​ ​too​ ​long​ ​diverted​ ​into​ ​morals​ ​and​ ​prejudices,​ ​go​ ​back​ ​to​ ​your​ ​sublime​ ​instinct.”​ ​Valentine
de​ ​Saint​ ​Point,​ ​“The​ ​Manifesto​ ​of​ ​Futurist​ ​Woman”

Geometric​ ​Dancer​ ​Doesn't​ ​Believe​ ​in​ ​Love,​ ​Finds​ ​Aspiration​ ​and​ ​Ecstasy​ ​in​ ​Spirals​ ​(2015)​​ ​is​ ​a​ ​performative
video-installation​ ​(20​ ​minutes,​ ​loop)​ ​composed​ ​of​ ​two​ ​facing​ ​aluminum​ ​plates​ ​of​ ​200​ ​x​ ​100cm,​ ​each
supporting​ ​a​ ​video-performance​ ​carried​ ​out​ ​by​ ​Mercedes​ ​Azpilicueta.​ ​On​ ​both​ ​plates​ ​-​ ​hanging​ ​from​ ​the
ceiling​ ​at​ ​a​ ​height​ ​that​ ​forces​ ​the​ ​viewer​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​her​ ​eyes​ ​-​ ​we​ ​see​ ​the​ ​diffuse​ ​image​ ​of​ ​a​ ​body​ ​given​ ​to
action.​ ​On​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​plates,​ ​we​ ​see​ ​her​ ​whole​ ​body​ ​in​ ​a​ ​lotus​ ​position;​ ​on​ ​the​ ​other,​ ​we​ ​see​ ​close-ups
of​ ​her​ ​fragmented​ ​body.​ ​The​ ​two-channel​ ​diegetic​ ​sound​ ​that​ ​emanates​ ​from​ ​her​ ​ghostly​ ​figure
dominates​ ​the​ ​exhibition​ ​space​ ​and​ ​generates​ ​an​ ​immersive​ ​atmosphere.​ ​The​ ​uncomfortable​ ​height​ ​of
the​ ​plates​ ​and​ ​the​ ​vagueness​ ​of​ ​the​ ​projected​ ​images​ ​of​ ​Azpilicueta´s​ ​body​ ​over​ ​the​ ​aluminum​ ​-​ ​justified
by​ ​her​ ​deliberate​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​shifting​ ​attention​ ​from​ ​the​ ​visual​ ​dimension​ ​of​ ​the​ ​work​ ​-​ ​combined​ ​with
the​ ​predominance​ ​of​ ​her​ ​voice​ ​disconnected​ ​from​ ​the​ ​senses​ ​of​ ​the​ ​written​ ​word,​ ​promote​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of
contact​ ​with​ ​the​ ​work​ ​that​ ​moves​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​typically​ ​modern​ ​rational​ ​and​ ​categorizing​ ​gaze.

The​ ​voice​ ​of​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​in​ ​the​ ​space​ ​appeals​ ​to​ ​a​ ​perception​ ​governed​ ​by​ ​listening,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of
mimetic​ ​empathy​ ​as​ ​a​ ​primary​ ​reaction​ ​to​ ​the​ ​presence​ ​of​ ​a​ ​language​ ​heard​ ​for​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time,​ ​which​ ​is
offered​ ​without​ ​any​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​grammar,​ ​meaning​ ​or​ ​functionality,​ ​a​ ​de-technified​ ​orality.​ ​This​ ​playful
encounter​ ​between​ ​her​ ​body​ ​and​ ​the​ ​material​ ​she​ ​has​ ​outsourced​ ​from​ ​the​ ​soundscapes​ ​reminds​ ​us​ ​of
what Walter Benjamin writes on “On the Mimetic Faculty”: “Children ́s play is everywhere permeated
by​ ​mimetic​ ​codes​ ​of​ ​behavior,​ ​and​ ​its​ ​realm​ ​is​ ​by​ ​no​ ​means​ ​limited​ ​to​ ​what​ ​one​ ​person​ ​can​ ​imitate​ ​in
another.​ ​The​ ​child​ ​plays​ ​at​ ​being​ ​not​ ​only​ ​a​ ​shopkeeper​ ​or​ ​teacher​ ​but​ ​also​ ​a​ ​windmill...”​​ ​Indeed,​ ​this
playful​ ​faculty​ ​-​ ​as​ ​an​ ​expression​ ​of​ ​joy​ ​or​ ​anxiety​ ​-​ ​shows​ ​us​ ​an​ ​entire​ ​body​ ​that​ ​appears​ ​engaged​ ​in​ ​the
production​ ​of​ ​sounds.​ ​Breathless​ ​breaths,​ ​sustained​ ​vowels,​ ​nasal​ ​sounds,​ ​isolated​ ​recognizable​ ​words,
grandstand​ ​songs,​ ​sighs,​ ​accompanied​ ​by​ ​a​ ​diaphragmatic​ ​breathing,​ ​compose​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​sonorous
landscape​ ​that​ ​springs​ ​from​ ​her​ ​vigorous​ ​and​ ​multi-gendered​ ​figure.

To​ ​produce​ ​this​ ​piece,​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​appropriates​ ​the​ ​chants​ ​and​ ​calls​ ​of​ ​foreign​ ​merchants​ ​in​ ​the​ ​markets
of​ ​Rotterdam.​ ​She​ ​uses​ ​her​ ​body​ ​as​ ​field​ ​of​ ​experimentation​ ​to​ ​grasp​ ​a​ ​text​ ​spoken​ ​in​ ​a​ ​foreign​ ​language
that​ ​she​ ​does​ ​not​ ​understand,​ ​but​ ​whose​ ​vitality​ ​moves​ ​her.​ ​The​ ​material​ ​she​ ​works​ ​with​ ​is​ ​the​ ​spoken
word,​ ​the​ ​unofficial​ ​Dutch​ ​of​ ​immigrants​ ​from​ ​many​ ​different​ ​places,​ ​of​ ​which​ ​she​ ​makes​ ​a​ ​translation
incarnated​ ​in​ ​a​ ​body​ ​with​ ​no​ ​grammar.​ ​It​ ​seems​ ​as​ ​if​ ​this​ ​irreverent,​ ​energetically​ ​and​ ​lively
interpretation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​acoustic​ ​qualities​ ​present​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Africaanderplein​ ​of​ ​the​ ​city​ ​of​ ​Rotterdam​ ​would
carry,​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time,​ ​its​ ​social​ ​and​ ​economic​ ​conditions.​ ​How​ ​can​ ​we​ ​grasp​ ​and​ ​decipher​ ​these
almost​ ​invisible​ ​linguistic​ ​elements​ ​within​ ​our​ ​social​ ​fabric​ ​through​ ​multi-sensorial​ ​perceptions?
In​ ​“Spinoza​ ​Poème​ ​de​ ​la​ ​Pensée”,​ ​Henri​ ​Meschonnic​ ​argues​ ​that​ ​language​ ​is​ ​steeped​ ​in​ ​affect.​ ​For​ ​him,
the​ ​reading​ ​or​ ​translation​ ​of​ ​a​ ​text​ ​must​ ​not​ ​focus​ ​solely​ ​on​ ​the​ ​detection​ ​of​ ​logical​ ​markers,​ ​but​ ​heeds
as​ ​well​ ​the​ ​affective​ ​marks​ ​of​ ​language.​ ​Both​ ​types​ ​of​ ​markers​ ​-​ ​the​ ​logical​ ​and​ ​the​ ​affective​ ​-​ ​are​ ​equally
ingrained​ ​in​ ​language.​ ​Just​ ​as,​ ​for​ ​Spinoza,​ ​body​ ​and​ ​soul​ ​form​ ​a​ ​single​ ​unit,​ ​these​ ​two​ ​markers​ ​come
together​ ​in​ ​recognition​ ​of​ ​that​ ​which​ ​gives​ ​rise​ ​to​ ​them;​ ​with​ ​Walter​ ​Benjamin,​ ​we​ ​envision​ ​language​ ​as
a​ ​domesticated​ ​form​ ​of​ ​mimesis,​ ​as​ ​an​ ​archive​ ​of​ ​undetectable​ ​likenesses​ ​and​ ​immaterial

Azpilicueta ́s work is significant insofar as she reproduces the affective marks of lived language even
when​ ​she​ ​does​ ​not​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​logical​ ​markers​ ​of​ ​the​ ​language​ ​before​ ​her.​ ​She​ ​uses​ ​her​ ​own​ ​body​ ​as
a​ ​space​ ​where​ ​the​ ​affective​ ​traces​ ​of​ ​another’s​ ​language​ ​are​ ​gathered​ ​as​ ​sediment,​ ​traces​ ​that​ ​she
brings​ ​back​ ​to​ ​life​ ​in​ ​making​ ​her​ ​work.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​privileged​ ​selection​ ​of​ ​the​ ​affective​ ​markers,​ ​she​ ​retraces
the​ ​evolution​ ​of​ ​language​ ​towards​ ​the​ ​total​ ​systematization​ ​of​ ​ancient​ ​forces​ ​of​ ​production​ ​and​ ​mimetic
reception,​ ​and​ ​tends​ ​to​ ​release​ ​those​ ​of​ ​magic.

The​ ​name​ ​of​ ​the​ ​installation​ ​makes​ ​reference​ ​to​ ​an​ ​article​ ​published​ ​in​ ​The​ ​Evening​ ​World​ ​(New​ ​York)​ ​in
1916​ ​on​ ​the​ ​work​ ​of​ ​the​ ​artist​ ​and​ ​writer​ ​Valentine​ ​de​ ​Saint-Point​ ​(France,​ ​1875-1953).​ ​The​ ​literal
appropriation​ ​of​ ​this​ ​reference​ ​to​ ​de​ ​Saint-Point​ ​can​ ​be​ ​understood​ ​as​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​authoritative​ ​quotation
brought​ ​by​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​to​ ​address​ ​her​ ​own​ ​body​ ​and​ ​feminine​ ​intuition​ ​as​ ​transformative​ ​agents​ ​of
social​ ​phenomena.​ ​De​ ​Saint-Point​ ​writes​ ​this​ ​manifesto​ ​as​ ​a​ ​response​ ​to​ ​Marinetti´s​ ​“notorious​ ​´scorn
for​ ​women´​ ​in​ ​the​ ​founding​ ​“Manifesto​ ​of​ ​Futurism”.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​way,​ ​de​ ​Saint-Point’s​ ​unprecedented
approach​ ​towards​ ​gender​ ​issues​ ​in​ ​history​ ​and​ ​society​ ​empowered​ ​women​ ​by​ ​allowing​ ​them​ ​to​ ​be
active​ ​and​ ​transformative​ ​agents​ ​themselves,​ ​through​ ​the​ ​capitalisation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​female​ ​intuition​ ​and​ ​the
re-appropriation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​violent​ ​masculine​ ​instinct.

Geometric​ ​Dancer​ ​(...)​ ​by​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​takes​ ​several​ ​elements​ ​from​ ​“The​ ​Manifesto​ ​of​ ​Futurist​ ​Woman”​ ​by
Valentine​ ​de​ ​Saint​ ​Point.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​those​ ​elements​ ​is​ ​the​ ​performative​ ​and​ ​declamatory​ ​character​ ​within
the​ ​Manifesto,​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​how​ ​poetically​ ​the​ ​text​ ​is​ ​written,​ ​especially​ ​through​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​aphorisms.
Another​ ​element​ ​is​ ​the​ ​way​ ​the​ ​text​ ​interpellates​ ​the​ ​reader,​ ​almost​ ​presenting​ ​itself​ ​as​ ​a​ ​call​ ​for​ ​urgent
action​ ​to​ ​be​ ​taken,​ ​specifically​ ​calling​ ​for​ ​an​ ​end​ ​to​ ​the​ ​duality​ ​between​ ​femininity​ ​and​ ​masculinity.​ ​Also,
vigorous​ ​elements​ ​such​ ​as​ ​the​ ​exaltation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​text​ ​and​ ​the​ ​clear​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​aggression​ ​are​ ​key​ ​for
Azpilicueta​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​the​ ​need​ ​of​ ​building​ ​and​ ​constituting​ ​a​ ​different​ ​femininity.​ ​The​ ​text​ ​written​ ​by
de​ ​Saint-Point​ ​is​ ​also​ ​another​ ​manifestation​ ​of​ ​her​ ​genuine​ ​nature​ ​as​ ​a​ ​versatile​ ​and​ ​interdisciplinary
artist.​ ​The​ ​multi-media​ ​performances,​ ​called​ ​“Metachories”​ ​by​ ​de​ ​Saint-Point,​ ​where​ ​the​ ​music​ ​was
disconnected​ ​from​ ​the​ ​movements,​ ​is​ ​a​ ​clear​ ​reference​ ​for​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​in​ ​her​ ​piece​ ​Geometric​ ​Dancer
(...)​.​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​sees​ ​in​ ​de​ ​Saint-Point​ ​a​ ​pioneering​ ​interdisciplinary​ ​and​ ​transdisciplinary​ ​practice.​ ​This
unique​ ​and​ ​relevant​ ​type​ ​of​ ​practice​ ​is​ ​something​ ​that​ ​she​ ​continues​ ​to​ ​carry​ ​forward​ ​in​ ​her​ ​work.

“The​ ​Manifesto​ ​of​ ​Futurist​ ​Woman,”​ ​for​ ​Azpilicueta,​ ​is​ ​presented​ ​as​ ​a​ ​battlefield​ ​of​ ​intuition;​ ​something
that​ ​she​ ​transpasses​ ​to​ ​her​ ​own​ ​working​ ​process​ ​and​ ​to​ ​her​ ​piece,​ ​Geometric​ ​Dancer​ ​(...)​,​ ​where​ ​the
main​ ​field​ ​is​ ​given​ ​to​ ​the​ ​act​ ​of​ ​play.​ ​This​ ​playfulness​ ​is​ ​present​ ​in​ ​the​ ​aesthetization​ ​of​ ​the​ ​voice,​ ​the
subjectivity​ ​of​ ​non-verbal​ ​language,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​ambient,​ ​affective​ ​and​ ​sonar​ ​qualities​ ​that​ ​she​ ​manages​ ​to
grasp​ ​through​ ​her​ ​body.​ ​In​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​own​ ​words:​ ​“those​ ​unrestrained​ ​forces​ ​return​ ​to​ ​the​ ​spectator​ ​in
a​ ​chant​ ​that​ ​is​ ​not​ ​necessarily​ ​centered​ ​in​ ​a​ ​subject​ ​in​ ​itself,​ ​but​ ​rather​ ​could​ ​be​ ​defined​ ​as​ ​an
a-subjectivity​ ​that​ ​nourishes​ ​from​ ​the​ ​soundscapes​ ​of​ ​the​ ​portuary​ ​city​ ​of​ ​Rotterdam;​ ​inviting​ ​us​ ​to​ ​take
the​ ​path​ ​that​ ​extends​ ​from​ ​discomfort​ ​and​ ​uneasiness,​ ​but​ ​assuring​ ​us​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​a​ ​non-rational,
differentiative​ ​and​ ​intuitive​ ​creation​ ​and​ ​re-creation​ ​of​ ​our​ ​perception​ ​of​ ​this​ ​world.”


Mercedes​ ​Azpilicueta​ ​(AR/IT/NL)​ ​is​ ​an​ ​artist​ ​and​ ​performer​ ​working​ ​between​ ​Rotterdam​ ​and​ ​Milan.
Recently​ ​she​ ​has​ ​received​ ​the​ ​Pernod​ ​Ricard​ ​Fellowship​ ​from​ ​Villa​ ​Vassilieff/Bétonsalon​ ​in​ ​Paris.​ ​During
2015​ ​and​ ​2016​ ​she​ ​was​ ​artist-in-residence​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Rijksakademie​ ​van​ ​Beeldende​ ​Kunsten​ ​in​ ​Amsterdam.
She​ ​earned​ ​an​ ​MFA​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Dutch​ ​Art​ ​Institute/ArtEZ,​ ​Arnhem​ ​and​ ​a​ ​BFA​ ​from​ ​Universidad​ ​Nacional​ ​de
las​ ​Artes,​ ​Buenos​ ​Aires,​ ​where​ ​she​ ​also​ ​took​ ​part​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Artist's​ ​Program​ ​from​ ​Universidad​ ​Torcuato​ ​Di
Tella.​ ​Currently​ ​she​ ​is​ ​working​ ​on​ ​her​ ​first​ ​institutional​ ​solo​ ​exhibition​ ​in​ ​Argentina​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Museo​ ​de​ ​Arte
Moderno​ ​de​ ​Buenos​ ​Aires​ ​in​ ​2018.

Daniela​ ​Brunand​ ​(AR)​ ​graduated​ ​in​ ​art​ ​history​ ​at​ ​Universidad​ ​de​ ​Buenos​ ​Aires,​ ​where​ ​she​ ​also​ ​studied
architecture.​ ​She​ ​independently​ ​studied​ ​with​ ​Juan​ ​Gaitán,​ ​Andrea​ ​Giunta,​ ​Walter​ ​Mignolo​ ​and​ ​María
Gainza,​ ​among​ ​others.​ ​She​ ​has​ ​received​ ​scholarships​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Goethe​ ​Institut​ ​and​ ​DAAD​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​her
studies​ ​in​ ​Germany,​ ​where​ ​she​ ​attended​ ​seminars​ ​with​ ​Isabelle​ ​Graw​ ​and​ ​Juliane​ ​Rebentisch​ ​at
Städelschule,​ ​Frankfurt​ ​am​ ​Main.​ ​Between​ ​2015​ ​and​ ​2017​ ​she​ ​worked​ ​in​ ​SlyZmud​ ​gallery​ ​in​ ​Buenos
Aires.​ ​In​ ​March​ ​2017​ ​she​ ​curated​ ​the​ ​exhibition​ ​Bóveda​ ​Gagá​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Centro​ ​Cultural​ ​Recoleta,​ ​Buenos
Aires.​ ​Her​ ​texts​ ​have​ ​been​ ​published​ ​in​ ​academic​ ​and​ ​specialized​ ​publications.

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