I was born in Colombia but left as a teenager to study violin performance and music composition in a conservatory in the US. A repetitive strain injury interrupted my career as a violinist and threw my life upside down. After some years of treatments, surgeries, and the struggles and lostness of someone who thought he'd be a concert violinist from the age of 6 but ended up not being able to be that I ended up taking a degree on a practice between composition and performance art at London’s Goldsmiths College. Here I began to explore the relationships between musicality and physicality, and produced choreographic, sculptural, and notational works.
I became artist in residence at the Laban Centre for contemporary dance and carried out a 3-year interdisciplinary research project with the British Council at Goldsmiths College and Universidad Nacional in Bogotá. I worked with a community of young creators from various countries as we made objects, produced experimental events, danced, made noise, performed, discussed, and published various experiments. It was during this research project that I started teaching and finding an interest for the art academy as a site for exploration and not just as a rite-of-passage into professional life.
Nowadays my practice takes an interest in the performative dimensions of sculpture and installation. I find motion to be an effective way of addressing time as a crucial reflective category given that so much of our culture is defined by intensity and speed. I also work very closely with economies of attention, basically the way people are able to invest in observing something as it happens, and how meaning changes as it develops in time. My PhD project at the University of Bergen focused on anxiety as a means for understanding media culture. I made immersive installations and a body of critical texts and video essays. My current practice draws from, and experiments with, choreographic processes, mechanical contraptions, tensions between materiality and temporality, and the sexual and affective undertones of digital realities. Lately I have been challenging myself to address our technologically influenced lives but doing so whilst resisting to rely on digital technologies to illustrate or manifest these concerns. The result is mostly analogue, performative and sometimes architectural works that also sculpt temporal qualities like suspension, saturation, ghostliness, uncanniness and lack of linearity. Music is still an important part of my work. But instead of scoring orchestral works or performing in accordance to my previous training, I work with song titles, sampling, bootlegging, and re-editing anything from field recordings to popular music.
What I am working on now / current interests
These days I am interested in domestic spaces in two ways: On the one hand, the home as a promise of safety and solace, but one that is currently also the site for eeriness, contention, surveillance and monetized boredom and angst. On the other hand, I like the idea of the home aligning to cosmic and fundamental questions. After all, it is at the home where one tends to illness and death, where existential truths are most deeply experienced, where childbearing happens, where intergenerational knowledge is shared, where explorations of identity take place, and also where solitude and abuse can be most insidious. I am researching this overlap of extreme banality and extreme meaning that coincide at the place we understand as a home. This naturally includes questions of queerness (resistance and alternatives to certain norms), labor vs. leisure, and intimacy. I think that my interest in these topics could be because I am someone who comes from a culture with very strong (often oppressive) traditions surrounding family and nuclear architecture, as well as being a naturally introverted person who enjoys domestic life. I also happen to be an artist who prefers to work at home rather than have an artist atelier.
Pedagogical approach and expectations of students
As a teacher I like to help you identify how your explorations relate to your interests, but crucially also to how they exist as cultural objects and images in the public domain. This means that I will often invite you to think not just about what you are making, but the meaning that your work might be triggering for others. It is often the case that what motivates us to make art is not how our artworks are being interpreted or understood. Our work together will be a lot about entering this very gap and finding out how you can position yourself in it. I am quite interested in crisis as a method. This means not just looking for ways to resolve a project and “getting things done”. I prefer to explore together ways to complicate a perspective or a process to get a broader understanding, and a richer practice.
My group crits are very informed by the energy and interests in the group. But I can say that I usually like shorter sessions (no more than 3 people presenting in one day). People presenting decide to do so voluntarily. When no one wants to present on a given date, we gather to discuss various topics, read together, or to talk about professional practice. This means that for me group crits are partly about the person(s) presenting, but to a greater degree about the rest of the group. I value building a sense of community and complicity through gestures of presence, attention and generosity that don’t just rely on language and “opinions”.
Lastly, I should say that I can be quite spontaneous as a teacher. This means that it’s easy to shift gears and change tracks as we go along, but also that some ideas and sessions might pop-up here and there. This makes things fun and potentially very relevant to whatever it is that is interesting at a given moment but can also be frustrating for people who like to plan ahead or have other jobs and things to do. I am trying to get better at planning ahead, but I don’t want to lose entirely this quality of adapting to circumstances. That said I am always willing to find a tone and rhythm that works as long as there is a sense of engagement and growth.
Pedro Javier Gomez Egana:
Museumsutstilling. Mer info