New routes to expand the limits of artistic creation

Claudia González and Sebastián Mejia reflect on the experiences they lived in the virtual co-creation residency (RE)Shape , which brought together cross-cultural views of creators from different countries. In this interview we address new creative possibilities, methodological links and perspectives for collaboration in contemporary art.

The virtual co-creation residency, (RE)Shape, considered experimental exercises carried out by five pairs of artists from Chile, Argentina, Iran, Mozambique and Switzerland, who worked asynchronously in the first semester of 2023. Their creative processes resulted in the making of soundscapes, scripts, video installations and formats that will be unveiled on Tuesday, August 22 at 4:00 p.m. at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) Parque Forestal headquarters at the inauguration of an exhibition open to the public until sunday august 27.

Both the visual artist Claudia González and the photographer Sebastián Mejia, who have explored medial arts and the drift methodology, experienced creative processes together with Swiss artists that were their resident duos: Jamuna Mirjam Zweifel and Oliver Roth, respectively. Generating dialogues on human and non-human dimensions through distant landscapes, as well as thinking about confluences between photography and performance around the question: when does art occur?, were the reflections that guided their creative processes.

Fundación Mar Adentro: What creative methodologies did you implement for ( RE)Shape ? Did you discover new strategies for your artistic processes?

Claudia González (CG): Together with Jamuna we elaborated a script to promote meetings. To arrive at that text, we shared the research stages in which each one was and we thought about how our searches could come together in an audio guide that worked as instructions to execute in a place. Jamuna generated instructions for me to find land and I for her to find water. Thus, a dialogue was articulated, always thinking about the search of the other artist. Something new was to rely on chat GPT that was exploding just at the time we were working.

Sebastián Mejía (SM): For me, the methodology has always been a challenge because my work is usually solitary. Digital communication gave rise to an interesting experiment that at first we did not know where it was going, because my partner is a performance artist and I am a photographer. That crossing was totally new, so we wondered how to make both formats congenial, and we came to exercises that accounted for a constant dialogue channeled in a video. Thus, we try to group all the media we use, from Telegram conversations, audiovisual fragments, photographs and texts. Until now, ideas continue to appear as a result of this experiment that was very productive.

How do you observe the confluences, divergences and encounters between you and your pairs, as well as between the group of artists in the residency?

CG: An important confluence that we had with Jamuna was the concern and enthusiasm to create a methodological tool that could remain in a territory thanks to an artificial record, a permanence that is, at the same time, ambiguous. In this sense, we arrived at a recorded file creation format, which arises, somehow, thanks to a drift process.

At ( RE)Shape, both Sebastián [Mejia] and I have been associated with drift through different lenses. While Sebastián does a wandering job to look for moments that captivate through situations or landscapes; walking has become my way to work,reconnecting with ecosystems, whether they are a city, a forest, a river or a mountain. It was inspiring to see how each pair of artists supported their processes to reach something common.

SM: There were interesting coincidences. Just before they called me to ( RE)Shape I got to know the work of Claudia [González], for example. I was researching the Mapocho river, and she was researching the theme of water, later it happened that we both had to work with Swiss artists. In this sense, that is to say, from the dialogue with a Swiss artist it is inevitable to compare the challenges of working in Latin America versus Europe.

On the other hand, as Claudia said, drifts can be approached in a particular way. In the case of her work, the drift emerged as poetic instructions, while for me and Oliver it ended up being related to everyday actions that led us to question where does art appear in the process, that is, where is the line between art and everyday life.

What creative potential arises from a hybrid residence or from initiatives that stress both bodily boundaries and ubiquity?

CG: Virtual art experiences boomed in the pandemic. It is interesting to think about what processes remained or were transformed since then. The virtual requires leaving the comfort zone because it forces us to seek strategies to communicate with the work of another artist. At the same time, it requires adapting to the methodology of someone unknown. The challenge and potential of the format lies in the need to open up and disorganize methodologically in order to destabilize the routines that each artist has already established.

SM: The limitations imposed by virtual formats force us to think about ways of approaching projects and artistic habits. Also, for the case of (RE)Shape , there were several dimensions; one was the work in pairs as a prolonged and intimate dynamic and others, like the group critique sessions with the mentors [REShape organizers] and the instances to share among all the pairs of artists. It is enriching to see how each artist duo from different parts of the world tackle creative challenges.

Lately, at the foundation we have been thinking about how to address the validity of collaborative art. How do you see this challenge from (RE)Shape ?

CG: It seems to me that the collaborative work in the residency was a prerequisite, in the sense that we always work thinking about the need to communicate with another artist. Although the definitions of collaborative art are linked to the ways in which art reaches a broader community, in (RE)Shape there is a kind of roaming and expansion given by the various nationalities of the pairs. In addition, there is a team that we do not know and that is going to assemble or disseminate our work, and there are also invisible processes. All this is part of a collaborative network from and for art.

SM : In my classes I always try to instill the importance of collaborative and transdisciplinary work. In art there is a need to work with editors, producers and curators. Although the work can be solitary when everything tends towards the immaterial and the isolation of the screens, there is a need to share, to see each other. Just as virtuality allows a kind of bodily isolation, at the same time, it can remind us of the importance of the collective. In addition, the hybrid condition makes it possible to access other projects in the digital space and, with the participation of artists from all over the world, the work expands.

How will we see your reflections projected in the material that will be released at the MAC Parque Forestal?

CG: Our format is a video installation that invites you to experience an audio tour together with a QR code. Attendees can go and carry out this experience in search of close natures related to the earth. There is also a kind of fanzine that accompanies the audio-tour process, where you can write, draw and establish a third layer of story. The instructions were synchronized by chat GPT, which helped us merge both looks. In the future we would love to continue this work with Jamuna.

SM: Our project with Oliver is a screen that displays a video of our communication experience around the question of when art arises. There will be headphones and a table with printed books containing photographs and excerpts from our dialogues. You will find video calls intertwined with images, reflections on artistic processes and performative elements. For example, while Oliver sings a song, I talk about my process of drifting the Mapocho River.

About the artists:

Sebastián Mejia , born in Lima, Peru, is a photographer and professor based in Santiago, Chile, whose work focuses on primitive life that often goes unnoticed in the modern metropolis. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and his master’s degree from the Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago de Chile. His work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Chile and abroad, including Nous les Arbres at the Fondation Cartier (2019) in Paris, Impulsos Urbanos at the Photographers Gallery in London (2019) and Quasi Oasis at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Santiago. (2013), among others.

Claudia González Godoy is an independent media artist and manager of educational projects on art and technology. Since 2006 he has developed works on the notion of materiality in analog and digital technological supports in the form of sound, electronic and recorded installations to reflect on technological developments and materialities and their effects on our natural and artificial environment. He has participated in various festivals and biennials, in which he has given countless workshops and talks on Art, Open Hardware, electronic experimentation and DIY Culture. Currently, he works at the Museo Taller and conducts research on rivers in Chile, whose waters are used industrially. Audio tours, field work and soundscapes are part of their methodologies.

*(RE)Shape is an international collaboration between partners Work it Out (CH/DE), Fundación Mar Adentro (CL), Wixutta Knowledge Center (MOZ), The Art Corner of Tehran (IRN) and cheLA (ARG). It is supported by an international collaboration grant “To-gather” from Pro Helvetia : Swiss Arts Council, Südkulturfond, Fundación Mar Adentro and Tanzhaus Zürich .


Violeta Bustos Vaccia

Violeta Bustos, director of communications at Fundación Mar Adentro. Journalist, graduated in Data Visualization and Master in American Aesthetics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He has experience in various fields of communications: creation and foundation of written media, teaching, research and content development for multiple formats. He has specialized in digital strategies, press, cultural and academic management.