Diana Soria Hernandez: SHORT DISTANCE CAMOUFLAGE
Saturday 22.9. at 20:30
Viinatehdas, Manilla, Itäinen Rantakatu 64
The performance is a device or stratagem used for concealment.
Diana Soria Hernandez (b. 1983, Mexico) is an independent artist focused on the exploration of visual and corporeal language mainly through performance art but also by using video, live installations, printmaking and drawing. She studied her BA in Fine Arts at La Esmeralda in Mexico, an MFA in Printmaking by the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki and is pursuing a MA in Live Art and Performance Studies at the Theater Academy Helsinki, both belonging to the University of the Arts, Helsinki.
Soria Hernandez’s work has been shown internationally in exhibitions and festivals in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Spain, Cyprus, England, Mexico, Colombia and China. Her practice includes self-organized events as an effort to contextualize and expand views on Performance Art between Latin America and Finland. In 2017 Soria Hernandez founded PROYECTO ANALCO as the platform to develop this path, supported by Kone Foundation (2016) and the Finnish Cultural Foundation (2018). Currently she lives and works in Finland and Mexico.
You are an artist whose work also operates in the field of activism. How would you introduce your artistic work and approach? What is your relation to decolonial thinking and practices?
For me decolonial thinking is rebellious and resilient, therefore it is a persistent practice. It starts as a collective practice that happens locally, among those with who we share context and history, because there is not one decolonial way of thinking (or theory) that can comprehend the immense work decolonial practices require.
For me, decolonial thinking is like a process of deconstruction that needs us to slow down and from a bird perspective start questioning and dialoguing, who we have been, who we are and what we want to be. At times it might not seem polite or diplomatic, it might be uncomfortable, but that’s how changes take place.
At the moment, I’m especially interested in following thinkers that talk from the Latin American perspective and it helps much to continue this dialogue by making questions together with family, friends and colleagues that are close to the same experience. In this way we can thinking collectively who we have been, who we are and what we want to be.
My performance practice is drawn into reaching for the intangible while remaining as open as possible. My focus on deconstruction is a way of exploring the capacity of renewing associations and thoughts, of opening new perspectives. In a way I’m interested in the impossible, therefore I have become more abstract and more far away from wanting to deliver a message. I see more potential in this, more possibilities to affect but I’m still far away from what I would like to reach in my practice.
I am interested in the potential of simple and maybe even minimal gestures, elements, actions and languages that can evoke and transform reality, even if it happens for a moment. Consciously working with my human scale in relation to audience, geographies and media, I seek for an art that can break the inertia of paralysis or maybe even apathy and boredom.
What I consider my work in the micro politics scale is to evoke the absent, the (in)visibility of bodies (not only human) and bring it in palpable form, not by creating illustrations but instead in echoing something similar to a memory, something that can be experienced.
I have been also very interested in the limitations and possibilities of representation when it comes to conflict events or violence, and I have questioned if it is possible to represent violence without reproducing it.
You are from Mexico, but you have been living in Finland now for many years. When I got to know you around four years ago, you were working with a project that dealt with the disappearance of over 40 students in Mexico. Could you tell shortly about that project and how did you work with the topic? Did the physical distance to the origin of the event bring another perspective to the project?
My thesis work for my MA in Live and Performance Art was motivated by urgency. It was a reaction to the enforced disappearance of 43 rural school teachers from Ayotzinapa, Mexico on September 2014. When the event happened, an international movement started demanding justice and clarification of the involvement of federal police and Mexican government, it was a movement that could not be contained and that exposed internationally the levels of corruption and impunity in the country. For us who mobilised it was an opportunity to make pressure and seek for a change.
My work was driven this urgency. In the beginning it was not the theme of my thesis work, because I didn’t even consider it art as such, it was more an exploration of performance as a tool for demonstration, for visibilizing, for adding up something as citizen. It became my thesis subject by itself, because it took over, because I was unable to do anything else. As a human experience, the physical distance to the origin of the event was very frustrating. It felt like a historical moment were things were changing, and I wanted to be there, nevertheless the possibility of working for it from Finland brought other possibilities and also responsibilities. My position in Finland gave me the responsibility of visibilizing the event here.
In artistic terms, the distance between Mexico and Finland revealed that language was insufficient and narratives were simplified and dismissed quickly. I made many performances that ”failed” in delivering a message and this made me rethink and explore in different layers. I had understood that while living in the translocation, I had to think about representation and symbolic language in a much more abstract ways, hoping that through action, body and presence, I could evoke the fragility of giving visibility to a matter that had already been hyper exploited, alienated and banalised by the media.
So to finish answering the question, being in Finland back then, brought my only perspective on the event, it changed my language and made me question representation. I want to make an art that can recall a feeling, not that transmits a message.
What can performance art do? You have also been studying printmaking and worked as a visual artist. What made you to choose performance art as your main medium?
When I was studying printmaking I reached the point where someone recommended me to check performance art because my understanding of printmaking, even if it was experimental, had gone a bit too far. I didn’t have the problem in defining if I was doing printmaking or not, but eventually I had to define it for others and so, I started new studies in Live Art and Performance Studies. Nevertheless the conceptuality of printmaking, remained. I insist even today that printmaking is much closer to performance than other traditional visual art disciplines.
Printmaking made me aware of reproduction/repetition, time, the mechanics of the body, the production of image, it gave me the sensation of making what nowadays I would call durational performances. These attributes of printmaking are still with me todays as I make mainly performance art, but with the clear distinction that performance art is action, is alive. Maybe this is the reason why I’m not so interested in making performance for camera, because after being a printmaker, creating images that can be captured and contained, is limiting. Printmaking, as other visual arts, are exhibited when finished and framed, and this was always bit frustrating to me.
The liveness of performance, its relation to time, context, space, audience, presence; blends into life, it has the potential of transformation. The apparent lack of a specific skill is also a gift for performance art, since it can surprise by creating layers and depth on the everyday life. I am interested and in need of immediate affection.
Performance art can create a utopian moment, a situation through affects and relationships. It is a language in itself that requires constant awareness and a fast mind. It interacts with the present, which is always unknown until its past. Because of this, for me performance can be art or a tool, as it was for me back in 2014, but it can come much closer to real life than any other art discipline. At the moment I’m interested in developing my performance art practice, and from there, I can address the micro politics.