Marisa González, Bilbao 1943
Lives and works in Madrid
Marisa González is a multimedia artist and has been an acknowledged pioneer in Spain and world-wide for her work in art and new techologies ever since the 70s. In this selection of videos we are introduced to her main interests: feminism, recyling and the environment and focus on the processes of social marginalization, exclusion and precariety in the world.
La descarga. Violencia mujer. 1975. 1’ 55’’
On completing her Fine Arts studies in Madrid, Marisa González joined Generative Systems (Systemas Generativos) in 1971, a pioneer teaching experiment founded the previous year by Sonia Sheridan at the Chicago Art Institute to apply new techologies to communication artistic creation. Later, while in Washington, after reading a news item about violence and repression against women in Chilean prisons, she began a project with colleagues and teachers at the Corcoran School of Art, to whom she proposed dramatizing the impact of violence on their bodies, creating a series of performative photographs, a method often used by the feminist awareness-raising groups under the banner “the personal is political”. Mary Beth Edelson who two years earlier had helped to organize the Conference for Women in the Visual Arts at the Corcoran Gallery was among those present and leading artists and feminist critics like Lucy Lippard, Alice Neel, Arlene Raven or Judy Chicago, from both West and East Coasts, had an opportunity to meet for the first time.
Ensueño, Video Opera, 1995-98. 7´30″
This video was created for the opera “Escenas de la Vida cotidiana”, directed by Gregorio Esteban with music by Marisa Manchado and debuted in the Abadía Theatre in the Autumn Festival of 1996. The principal role is a woman, the composer who begins to have doubts about her profession, her identity and is especially obsessed about the incompatibility of her profession with her maternity.
The source of this video derives from the Clónicos project, after a visit by the artist to the Famosa doll factory in Onil, Alicante where Marisa took a series of disturbing photographs of the production lines showing imperfect heads, legs and arms which she took back to her studio. These would later inspire widely varied works in which the artist investigates new technologies, formats and methods: photographs of Bubblejet photocopies of fragments of moulds; light boxes and video projections of the enlarged and coloured dolls’ heads; images digitally manipulated by the Lumena computer system is equipped with digital treatment software of images designed at the beginning of the 80s for artists by John Dunn.
Las celdas, 2000. 2´26’’
A eulogy to the extraordinary figure of Saint Teresa of Avila whose incorrupt body is kept in a sepulchre sealed with nine keys, evoked here by the nine door of the “cells” of the Fábrica HP Harino Panadera de Bilbao. Accompanied by José Guerrero’s extremely lyrical music, the sequence opens and closes with the suggestive image of a fragile curtain covering darkness, an organic hanging wafting in the breeze.
Matadero Express, 2003-2013. 7’ 22’’
Before its restauration as a cultural centre Marisa González was able to visit the old Madrid slaughterhouse (Matadero) sanctioned by her earlier visits to other industrial buildings before their demolishment, like the Fábrica HP. Later the artist visited other abandoned edifices, Ensidesa/Arcelor, La Serrería, La Fábrica de Tabacos, the Mediodia power plant, today Caixaforum in Madrid or the Artiach biscuit factory in Bilbao. Using video footage recorded in the soaring drying chamber, Marisa inserts flashes of a young female presence, fleeing and retreating into the space, announcing as it were, the future irruption of the creation. The other main actor is the camera, in a 360º panoramic panning, that creates new geometric spaces suggestive of the mutation process.
El mensaje del Kanga, 2011. 10’ 12’’
It would have been unthinkable not to include the artist’s reaction to the globalized world. She visited Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, India, China, Myanmar, Hong Kong, and the Philippines in Asia during the 70s as well as countries in Africa. These visits triggered various projects from speaking about inequality bringing about the fragile state of the planet, gender violence, the sex industry, to the rigid laws governing offer and demand of the employment market.
Against the background buzz and murmur of the streets and markets, the dozens of images collected in El mensaje del kanga speak for thousands of the women in countries in the southeast of the African continent who use their colourful clothes, their “kangas” as a means of social communication to transmit messages. Written in Swahili they are silent visual expressions of their feelings, beliefs and traditions. They might be proverbs or sayings, or words from sacred texts like the Bible or the Qu’ran. Often they are used as political propaganda or affinity to an ideology. The kanga may also incorporate motifs that add additional codes of expression to the inscriptions.
Rocío de la Villa
Translated by Diana Mathieson
Statement / Bio
Her work from the beginning, in the decade of the 70, maintains several constants of concepts that can be perceived in almost all the works, in a common denominator: the use of the technology, the social comitment and the recycling.
The latter based on «found objects» not as «ready made» but as a source of inspiration, evolution and development, in a reading, which breaks with the signs of real reference to delve into the suggestion, the metaphor, the symbols, the representation through the being Ialización and generation of images and meanings aided by today’s instruments, such as photography, electrography and computer.
In her process of creation she has a need for accumulation, of possessing an infinite collection of objects that are not intrinsically valuable, to explore and to discover the difference in what is considered equal; What it is, becomes something else, it suffers a process of reincarnation. It Is a catch, stretching the time of permanence, fear of disappearance, is a ultimately fear of death.
Working however with tools of her time, with technical advances, with machines invented to the communication society, has been a constant and insistent permanent goal. In the run over the rationality of technology, this allows her to manipulate, repeat, serialize and fragment or build rationally or compulsively, traverse several paths and in different directions, in a succession of acumulative moments, a disorder in the mechanic order, in an attempt to integrate art science and technology.
Reflections on human beings and human relationships in daily life and their environment through recycling.
The creative process it originates from the discovery of an object or image that has been discarded in her environment, in everyday life. This fortuitous encounter with the discarded object or image, gives her a strong attraction. Likewise she is seduced by the recovery of the objects that have been thrown, forgotten or abandoned and may disappear. The attraction for imperfection and for what is abandoned, causes in her a sense of recovery of reconversion in all the fields, not to manipulate its form, but to be observed from another viewpoint, to take them to another dimension in which the original object changed its scale, color, light, context, fragmented and penetrated by a macro eye, to become a new identity, creating situations and human relationship between the objects themselves. They do not undergo a transformation in their form, nor as components of assemblies between them. Its own original form is respected and maintained, what changes is the situation created and the transformations that occur in the process of graphic representation, in an attempt to build new worlds, new lives, with the objective of transcend.
The need to recycle has been and is a permanent constant. Rescuing the useless, injecting new life into the already rejected objets to represent a visual narrative, establishing a dialogue between the artificial and the real, the manipulated or modified.
Marisa González is one of the pioneering artists in the application of new technologies of reproduction and communication in artistic creation.
She graduated in Music at the Bilbao Conservatory, in Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid 1971, Master at the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Generative Systems 1973 and B.F.A. at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington D.C. 1976.
His entire artistic career is marked by the systematic relationship with the ever-changing technologies of contemporary society.
From his first works with photocopiers at the beginning of the 70’s later with faxes, and later with computers and video.
In the symbiosis between art and technology, and having as her method the assembly of different techniques, Marisa González has generated a new language codified by herself.
The reproduction of the images, and of the fragment and its repetition or generation of the form as emblematic values of the contemporary, are present in all her work.
Born in Bilbao in 1943, lives in Madrid. She Has a degree in Music from the Bilbao Conservatory. Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Madrid. She Moved to US in 1971 to study a Master in Fine Arts at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She graduated from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC.
She participated actively in Generative Systems in Chicago since its origins in 1971 with the founder the artist Sonia Sheridan. All of her professional career has been developed in the visual arts working with the tools of her time: photocopiers, photography, video and computer.
She has made more than 60 solo exhibitions and 150 group exhibitions. She has her work in multiple Museums and Collections.
Cited as a reference in numerous publications, as for example in Arte en España, (1939-2015) Ideas, Prácticas y Políticas by Jorge Luis Marzo and Patricia Mayayo. Or Summa Artis, La Fotografía en España de los orígenes al siglo XXI from Espasa Calpe editor.
She diirects workshops, gives lectures and talks on New Technologies, which is one of the pioneering artists.