Natura non facit saltus
Untitled (Natura non facit saltus)
Mural made with ashes of dollar bills
Natura non facit saltus: Fritzia Irízar
Last year, the collapse of Darwin’s Arch, located north of the Galapagos Islands, was announced. This event is the result of a natural erosion process, according to the Ministry of Environment in Ecuador. However, resorting to an act of semiosis to understand this episode as the end of a cycle that nature has not ceased to forewarn through signs we have been unable to decipher, or perhaps, have deliberately ignored, is inevitable.
The principle which serves as the title of this exhibition manifests itself accurately in Darwin’s theory of evolution: a genealogical trace that biologically denies the historic distinction between humans and nature. However, the dichotomous relationship between human beings and the environment has a pivotal role in our occidental worldview, to the point that the devastation of the ecosystems that house us as part of themselves finds its raison d’être in the anthropocentric alienation that separates us from the natural. And what is it but language that makes us feel so lonely in a world where everything seems to be part of the unity of life except ourselves? There seems to be a communicative inability between our species and the natural world; it has been urged that the monopoly of language belongs to humans and based on that myth we have appropriated the external by naming and destroying it. But then, what happens when we, engrossed in our lifestyle, meet head-on, unprepared and speechless, with the imposing truth that nature has always conveyed?
One of the characteristics that permeate the work of Fritzia Irízar is the instrumentalization of divergent disciplines to participate in knowledge building from an aesthetic stance, where she questions and rarefies the reality of the decisions we make, making use of tools derived from politics, economics, religion, arts, science. Her projects bring into play the signs of different systems and become part of a new system, a poetics. This quality is noticeable in Natura non facit saltus, starting, for example, from a model that allowed researchers at Berkley to virtually recreate the shapes, patterns, and colors of mollusks, due to the relationship these forms have with the production of pigments and calcium from the animal, which, in the first instance, are subordinated to the particular characteristics of the environment and the condition of the mollusk, so that what we see in the shells are future projections, a phenomenon that is similar to the processes that make memory and language possible for us.
Untitled (Conus murmur)
Sonorus metallic cylinder
Untitled (Wishing fountain)
Scallop-shaped bronze fountain
Fritzia uses knowledge that stems from neuroscience, biophysics, computer science, etc., to present a hypothesis that gives it a useful turn and directs our attention immediately to another phenomenon: the complexity of these formations in mollusks can only respond to the same nature to which the linguistic capacity does. A clear indication that this species is trying to communicate. Thus, the need to establish said communication from different places to those we are used to occupying in our relationships, however, subject to them, arises. Therefore, in the exhibition we can find approaches to the language of mollusks that range from a graphological study of their forms to the realization of a score that emulates them to be reproduced by a music box, constituting an intersemiotic translation of the visual signs of the shell to the sonorous ones, expanding the spectrum of ways of communicating and interpreting. There is now a more relevant presence of the shell as a sign of the poetics felt in this project, a poetics of the sea.
Having already carried out important research and projects concerning the extraction of pearls, Fritzia Irízar continues to find improbable but forceful images of our predatory condition in these beings. The Conus gloriamaris, one of the mollusks studied in this exhibition, for example, has been possessively coveted over time for intriguing and contradictory reasons such as the mortality of its venom, or frivolous, such as its scarcity, making it a very precious collector’s item. Or the scallop shell, Pecten maximus, a symbol of Santiago de Compostela and that which inspired the design of the City of Culture of Galicia, an architectural project aimed at the construction of a tourist attraction that eventually became a white elephant worth more than 400 million euros.
The project led by the American architect Peter Eisenman is approached by Fritzia from its obvious contradictions, using the symbolism of the scallop shell. The Fountain of Wishes is a shell intervened from the designs of the City of Culture. This juxtaposition of ideas in the fountain image reveals a critique of the model which legitimizes the environmental devastation and waste for superfluous interests. The inoperability of the Galicia project is the result of a completely outmoded construction of its needs and in conflict with the same natural environment it occupies, altering the wind regime and being inaccessible but also unnecessary for its audience. In the critique of this element of the exhibition, an ironic tone can be noted when the artist contrasts the maneuver of manipulation of the Eisenman’s team, using the shell as a rhetorical hook to win the concession of the public work, and the intention of a cultural attraction that would make the city of Galicia compete in the European tourism industry. As years go by, the City of Culture of Galicia remains unfinished and with serious problems of operability, suggesting that a cultural and tourist trigger will continue to be just a reverie.
Untitled (Conus personality)
150 cm x 180 cm
Untitled (Conus murmur)
Sheet music in wall
Mollusks have turned our attention to a particular phenomenon: tourism. This activity possesses a high status in a globalized world, for which cultural exchange has as its sole purpose the circulation and the return of capital. In this sense, the tourist industry has exploited one of the most effective resources to attract visitors: the beaches and the sea. Natura non facit saltus is an exhibition in which there is a clear awareness of this phenomenon; in it, the images evoke ideas about the hierarchy from which we relate to nature, such as the branding of the water, a poetic gesture in which a fundamental element of nature is marked the way cattle are as a symbol of ownership.
From the sea, Fritzia Irízar questions our relationship with the world. In Mexico, beaches receive around 48 million international tourists annually, making tourism one of the main sources of income in the country. This economic opportunity has been intensively taken advantage of, causing an invasion of tourist infrastructure that has seriously affected the marine and beach ecosystem, and, consequently, has also influenced the frequency and characteristics of natural disasters. It is then, right here, in the context of an apparent discord between humanity and nature, where establishing a communicative process that recovers or creates new ways of reconnecting with the environment becomes prevalent.
Historically, we have interpreted the signs of nature organically, without separating what is human from the phenomena of the world. This is present in the collective imaginary and is part of the knowledge that has been built communally and from our contact with the natural. Although this practice is constantly displaced in modern thought, Frtizia is aware of the value that such knowledge supposes and is therefore able to integrate it into her system of signs. In a performative action, the fertility, the nature, and the frivolity of the economic system are combined to convey a critical discourse and complete the poetics of the sea omnipresent throughout the exhibition: three pregnant women reproduce the sound of the sea moving drums that contain small spheres of gold and silver. This piece alludes to the lunar influence on sea waves, but also recalls the relationships of significance that have been made over time, where lunar cycles are compared with earthly processes such as fertility. In this way, a type of knowledge that has been displaced towards the unconventional is integrated here to build a portrait of the regime of exploitation of the living according to wealth. But in a much more direct instance, life imposes itself on this action as the explicit manifestation of itself, the body that is and generates life, producing the sound of the sea.
Finally, as a cycle that ends, the return to Darwin's Arch, as a sign of something catastrophic. If evolutionary theory, which takes us back to our animality, to nature, arises inspired by this site, what message emerges from the sea when this place collapses? Natura non facit saltus insists on horizontal communication with nature and shows the contradictions of our way of life, oscillating between signs that in one way or another lead us to the sea, perhaps because it is that elusive abyss that as a species we will not conquer.
Color video and archive documentation
Untitled (Branding water)
Untitled (Sheet music conus)
Four color photographies polyptych
Untitled (Creating sea)
Three ocean drums with silver and gold pellets
Bronze scallop and
Untitled (Aleo Jacta Est)
Painting made with ashes of dollar bills