By María Elena Ortiz
Associate Curator at Perez Art Museum, Miami, USA.
I am a new supporter of Alejandro Chellet’s work. His performances and installation are an example of how of artists in contemporary society question human symbols to create new metaphors that expand on our human existence. I would like to introduce his work through the artist’s words. I did a short interview with the artist I asked the following: Looking through your works, Alejandro, there are works that capture my attention such as, FOOD: a non-renewable resource (2017). This work addresses the complexities of our distribution, use, and consumption of food. I am referring to the use of pesticides, the conditions of farmer, and its economies (referring to global entities like MONSANTO). In, FOOD: a non-renewable resource, you recuperated vegetables, specifically broccolis, that were in perfect condition, but were trashed by New York City restaurants. With these vegetables, you created a durational work with the interested of generating a critique on value and food as a commodity.
What do you think about the role of performance and contemporary culture? He said: Today, there are many types of performances. Some are closely related to entertainment, others generate a poetic setting or even an abstract moment—all attempting to achieve an aesthetic experience. Definitely, there are performances that are activism, proposing an alternative to a pre-existing reality. I work where I am. I recuperate materials. In 2011, I was living in London, when I had exchanges with the Occupy and Squaters Movements. Certainly, these movements informed my practice. Today, I feel that we live in a complex society, where humans have lost their sense of value and have confused relationship with the planet. In my sense of awareness, performance is a strategy to generate a constructive critique, a new consciousness or sense of awareness. I do think that ecologists need more culture, more body, and artists need more awareness. FOOD: a non-renewable resource consisted of interactions with the public that aim at promoting a different relationship to food—one in which discarded food can be refurbished for meditation and artistic creation. I want to use performance to pose the question, how can we use this artistic strategy to change the way, we as humans; can change the perspective of others on specific problems or situations.
His assertion, reminded me to a certain type of utopia—a concept I feel we must re-interpret today. But Alejandro does not believe in a future utopia, he just believes in ecological sustainability and social regeneration.
I asked Alejandro, in your performances one can appreciate recurrent motifs such as trash and objects related to indigenous cultures, do these objects have a specific meaning to you?: I have used a lot “the arrow” which to me represents the force of change, an energy that transforms something old into something new, independently of the concepts of good or evil. I have worked a lot with “the window,” which I perceive as a frontier, a divisive line. I used the window recently at the Art/Life Institute in Kingston, New York. And I tend to work a lot with “money” with the impetus to questions its sense of value, its fictitious value.
I continued, what can performance become in the future?: Performance is freedom. Like ecology, it is a way of living, a way of expressing what I have learned through my travels, community, through my body. In general, I want to push performance outside of the art stage, integrating it into a physical and spiritual practice. Something that nourishes our creativity and other parts of our lived experience.
Today, we use technology to create, but our bodies remain. They will remain. Which is why I think that performance or the art realized through our pure body expression is the most sustainable art form. It only depends on existence.
I am at almost at the end of my reflection. I would just want to say that, Alejandro’s work explores the connections of art, ecology, and humanism. His choice of materials or motifs reveals his interest in ideas of artist/shaman, art as a spiritual practice. I also think about my own curatorial work and the role of civic institutions or cultural gatherings, such as this one. We are engines that can facilitate the reconfiguration of human thought, and perhaps through this event our consciousness will also regenerate.