Visual artist Armanza Pereda talks about materiality through the objects in his work.

Armanza Pereda, who lives in Mexico and the United States, has become interested in the perceived danger and risk ideas due to the very different environments of both countries. His large installation art utilizes everyday objects that are easily recognizable. Pereda challenges the conceptual context of these objects, and often their physics, by presenting them in unexpected environments such as underwater. His work is tense, fragile, transient and satire.

A spare rod ruining a child, 2012. Fluorescent lights and various objects. Dimensional Variables, Armanza Pereda | STIRworld
Don’t spare the rod ruining the child, 2012. Fluorescent lights and various objects.Dimension variable Image: Armanza Pereda

In his recent light installations, the use of fluorescent lights has been a recurring theme. “I started experimenting with them to push the physics of materials and objects like fluorescent lights to the limit, in other words, to challenge the ideas of these familiar objects,” he says. increase. The underwater photography series is inspired by Dutch still lifes, but is often caricatured by the ideas of Surrealism. “… If you don’t take it with humor and satire, don’t make art,” he says.

I talk to contemporary artists about his practice and ongoing projects.

Rahul Kumar: We use vintage objects from flea markets and thrift shops. How do you use the mundane to express the duality of fragility and strength?

Armanza Pereda: The first encounter with an object is in a domestic space. We learn how to interact with them. Learn if they are heavy, fragile, or able to hit, roll, or bounce them. We learn that some specific objects can be dangerous to us or valuable to others. So I’m trying to use an object that has a history and has an aesthetic that mainly brings nostalgia. For example, light bulbs learn to be fragile and then live with this idea for all our lives. But on the other side of the fact, the light bulb can handle a lot of pressure structurally, depending on how it is applied. These dichotomies are intriguing to me.

Continue with carry-on baggage, 2021, underwater photography. Archive Inkjet Prints on Cotton Paper, Armanza Pereda | STIRworld
Carry-on baggage, Underwater photography in 2021.Archive inkjet print on cotton paper Image: Alejandro Armandza Pereda and Lehmann + Silva Gallery

Rahul: And how does the importance of objects like neon lights add to your story? How is it combined in your large sculpture?

Armanza Pereda: They are not really neon lights. It is a mass-produced fluorescent lamp for consumer use. This is an important difference because they are objects that people are familiar with. People are aware of its characteristics, such as being fragile and can explode if mishandled. Also, it is not well known that it contains mercury and toxic chemicals.

It is important to recognize the fragility and toxicity of the properties that result in people handling the tubes with caution, as they have important implications in the way I use them as materials. We started experiments to push the physics of materials and objects such as fluorescent lights to the limit. In other words, challenge the ideas of these familiar objects. One of my previous artworks was a hard block of concrete cast over some incandescent bulbs. I haven’t done any scientific calculations on this piece, but I tried it like a fluorescent light. Even if I put a concrete block on it, it didn’t break. I put two, but they were still intact. Then I put three of them … and they were still there. I didn’t continue. I stopped. Not because I was afraid that the light bulb would break. I didn’t want to know what the limits of their resistance were, so I quit. This lack of knowledge made me enthusiastic about building sculptural art in the field.

Aging Social Pillars, 2021, Pallet Jacks, Pallets, Iron Heaters, Limestone Capital, Engineering Books, Carrara Concrete Statues, Armanza Pereda | STIRworld
A pillar of an aging society, 2021, pallet jacks, pallets, iron heaters, limestone capital, engineering books, carrara concrete figures Image: Armanza Pereda

Light bulbs need electricity to perform their function. I think this is similar to other materials that require an atomic structure surrounded by electrons. As steel cables for building pillars and bridges, they are always present in the street by physical force. I think the light that emits the tube in my light art work is the power to bring everything together.

Sticks and Stones N.4, 2015, concrete, bust, table, driftwood, brass, fluorescent lights, and discovered objects, Almanza Pereda | STIRworld
Sticks and stones N.4, 2015, concrete, bust, table, driftwood, brass, fluorescent lights, and discovered objects Image: Armanza Pereda

Rahul: The aesthetics of your image spans the Dutch still life tradition and surrealism. How do you expect your viewers to “consume” a work with multiple layers?

Armanza Pereda: All my works are basically still life. Objects, materials, home settings, balance, and time all have their own meanings and concepts. It may be seen closely as a surreal intention, but it is based on real facts. I think my approach is straightforward. I’m glad that anyone who recognizes materiality understands my work. Of course, it has more layers with some personal stories, which may make it more conceptual art.

Restraint Restraint, 2016, Archive Pigment Print, Armanza Pereda | STIRworld
Restriction of restraint device, 2016, Archive Pigment Print Image: Armanza Pereda

Rahul: Do you have satire or humor, especially in the underwater series? Is it a hassle to show photos in the water? … and why underwater and why upside down?

Armanza Pereda: always! … if you don’t take it with humor and satire, don’t make art.

Gravity, a sculptor, can be your friend or enemy. It can be good or bad, but you always have to deal with it. By carrying and using heavy objects, especially concrete, I began to crave for anti-gravity devices, or better places with various physics. So I started thinking about space sculptures that I can’t do now, but I think it will be possible in the future. Then I started thinking about underwater structures. It was very liberating because we could create architectural structures that were not possible in our environment. I think that’s the idea of ​​seeing Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and Jack Kustu’s documentary.

Face ao caracter racional dos acontecimeintos que justicam tal protocolo, 2021, gantry, chandelier, concrete block, wood, chain hoist, outfitting device, Almanza Pereda | STIRworld
Face ao caracter racional dos acontecimeintos que justicam tal protocolo, 2021, gantry, chandelier, concrete block, wood, chain hoist, outfitting equipment Image: Alejandro Armandza Pereda and Lehmann + Silva Gallery

I don’t think there are any boring moments in art production. Uh … except for all the administrative work, composing emails, and sometimes providing interviews. However, if the idea succeeds even a little, all the “hardships” will disappear, but there will be many frustrations, difficult and tragic moments. It’s been 16 years since I started making the underwater series. Working on a variety of media / conditions where you cannot breathe or move normally is quite difficult. And to do so, you need to control and manage your space. So I started working in a house with a small aquarium, a jacuzzi and a pool in a 27 cubic meter aquarium with an inverted periscope system built in the studio. Personally, I think it’s more interesting to have an underwater work that’s all behind the scenes than the work itself or the finished work, when it’s part of a building or tank.

upside down? Now, isn’t it interesting just to flip things over to see what happens?

Armanza Pereda | STIRworld
Artist Armanza Pereda Image: Courtesy of Armanza Pereda

Rahul: Recent sculptural installations contrast the notions of risk recognized in Mexican and American buildings. What is the deeper idea you are trying to express through this metaphor?

Armanza Pereda: In fact, my work started when I lived on the border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua, Mexico. I lived in Ciudad Juárez while attending an art school in El Paso. There are two different realities, one is one of the safest cities in the United States and the other is one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America. In general, risk perceptions vary considerably between the two countries, societies, cultures, and times.

In the early days of art production, I’m happy to experience these differences between two nearby locations. It can be said that both may be the reality of one’s life. For obvious reasons, being in a dangerous environment is not good at all. But it makes you more elastic and adaptable. Life must continue. On the other hand, in a very safe environment, not only do people prosper, but they also pay less attention to their surroundings. On the other hand, in a social environment that almost guarantees your safety, you are more delusional about the idea of ​​danger, in other words fear.

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Interview for Alejandro's Exhibition Everything except Walter and the Kitchen Thunk at McBean Gallery, SFAI | Armanza Pereda | STIRworld

Interview with Armanza Pereda’s exhibition Everything except the kitchen thunk Walter and McBean Galleries at SFAI Video: Armanza Pereda

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