Ana Navas: Ich traute mich, sie zurückzugeben, weil sie nicht bissfest waren
Some months ago, I visited Ana Navas’ studio at FLORA ars+natura in Bogota. I say studio because we have agreed upon using this word when referring to the place where artists work, but, were it not that Navas totally reversed its logics, I think it would have been more appropriate to allude to the room where her art was made and displayed as a cabinet of curiosities. Visually there was little that distinguished Navas’s installation from such cabinets: also she had covered nearly every surface of the room, and also she had displayed objects belonging to natural history and ethnography.
But there was a fundamental difference. Rather than showing the curiosities of far-away places and “exotic” cultures, the artist’s room included oftentimes fictitious rarities of contemporary societies. Amongst the dozens of lying, hanging or standing objects there were for example some oval shaped pieces of foam rubber which women should place around their waist in order to straighten the curves of the female body, a reinvented pussy bow blouse (a floppy bow at the neck of a woman’s blouse which served to cover her cleavage), and a monochrome cape upheld by a metallic structure which would make the woman torso appear as rectangular as a male torso.
While from their appearance one couldn’t guess, there was a strong internal tie which united the garments invented or reinterpreted by Navas: each one called attention to the ways in which women and the female body under capitalist patriarchy have oftentimes literally been deprived of their sexuality and femininity. In her conceptualization of these pieces of clothes, the artist had been inspired by books on ‘power dressing’, the practice of dressing in a style that enables women to show theirauthority in male-dominated political and professional environments.
Yet to say that Navas’s work is about gender (“it’s about the experience of being a woman”) or ethnicity (“it’s about being Venezuelan”) is, at the very least, reductive. Rather than isolating her work to a certain demographic, it should be understood as responding to broader questions about the construction and performativity of identity. I believe that the quality of Navas’s works resides just here, in the humorous and inventive ways in which she shows that what we are - or better, what we are required to be - is constructed and communicated through simple and seemingly inoffensive objects and behaviors.
Ana Navas (born 1984 in Quito, Ecuador) lives and works in Amsterdam. As a master student of Prof. Franz Ackermann, she completed her studies in 2011 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. Navas received several prizes and scholarships, including the graduate scholarship of the State of Baden-Württemberg and the scholarship of the Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg, as "artist-in-residence" she was a guest of the CEAAC Strasbourg and completed study stays at the Goethe-Institut in Salvador de Bahía, at the Cité International des Arts in Paris and at the Escuela FLORA ars+natura in Bogotá. For two years she participated in the "De Ateliers" programme in Amsterdam. In 2018 the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden showed the solo exhibition To cut one's hair by the moon. The Stadtgalerie Sindelfingen showed 2017 Navas’ exhibition I had to think of you. Navas’ works have also been shown at P/////AKT (Amsterdam), Tegenboschvanvreden (Amsterdam), CEAAC Strasbourg and Rinomina (Paris). Ich traute mich, sie zurückzugeben, weil sie nicht bissfest waren is Ana Nava’s first solo exhibition at SPERLING.
Many thanks to tegenboschvanvreden, Amsterdam
This is a test media item