From micro to macrocosmos: Marta Pinilla and the intersection between Art and Science

The Independent Contemporary Art Festival YOUNG GALLERY WEEKEND [YGW], held in Barcelona from September 28th-30th , is the main promoter of independent artists and art spaces of the city, bringing the most innovative proposals to question the official circuit established in Contemporary Art world.

Within the framework of the festival, ETHER Arts Project curated the performance “Return to Multiverso” by Marta Pinilla, done in conjunction with Miguel Andrés. The piece, presented at the Festival Opening in Espronceda Center for Art and Culture, consisted in a duo of sinister beings, dressed in exotic attires, whom have just went through a black hole and are now in a pararell universe, in the vicinity of an art gallery. Having lost part of their humanity, they had transformed into observers of reality, for which they needed the help of the audience to be directed in space, to contemplate and understand the new world around them. The presentation had an excellent acceptance of the public, which was a central point in the conformation of the festival, whose mission is to zoom into art in an active and participative manner.

Marta Pinilla is a multidisciplinary artist graduated in Biology and Fine Arts from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid with a Master in Art and Science from the St. Martins School of Design. In her artistic practice she seeks to represent unambiguously the brain and the universe. Miguel Andrés, on his behalf, is a Murcian artist who arrived at art after a long tradition in the creative industry. The central axe of his investigations spins around human being and all of its inherences, using his body as the main medium for his work.

The combination of both talents was perfect to boost their individualities in tandem, demonstrating once again that the possibilities for joint creation highly surpass their singularities. Marta commented about this: “It was something magical. Miguel and I arrived at a high level of complicity in the previous hours to the performance, which showed during the production. The performance, which lasted quite long, went through various moods, having many different reactions, surprise, admiration, fear… The reaction from the audience was very positive, through comments as well as in social media implication and engagement, audience interaction and proposals received.”

In conversation with ETHER, Marta explained her vision about the relationship between man and nature: “Man has historically positioned itself giving its back to nature, making use and abuse of its resources and having it at disposal until it was destroyed, which determines the ecological disaster we have nowadays.” The artist, who considers this worldview to be mistaken, affirms that “human beings are nature, we are part of it. We take part in the food chain, our resources come from nature and our waste ends up there too”. Marta develops most of her work in the intersection of these thoughts.

For her conceptual search, she moves comfortably from general to specific ideas, and vice-versa. Her discourse is not fully academic, yet she finds theoretical support in the conclusions of Mandelbrot about fractals, in the studies of David Jou about the numerous similarities between the brain and the universe, as well as in the multiple comparative studies of images from microscopes and telescopes from Javier de Felipe. She brings these ideas forward naturally and straightforwardly: she speaks for everybody.

Thinking about our humanity as part of an infinite and indivisible whole, advocating for the sublime nature of the universe, seems to be quite an overwhelming reality. Marta dissects this idea perfectly well: “Deep beneath the surface I think this vision of human as an alien being towards nature has to do with the difficulty we have to encompass the greatness of nature. That’s why we engage in fragmenting and studying it in small compartments that seem self-contained and separated. But these compartments are only artificialities created by men. All the universe matter is formed by the same elements and atoms, and thinking that with the same bricks very different buildings are made is a very reductionist misconception.” Consequently, it’s inherent to humans to separate things to get to know them profoundly.

The similarities between micro and macrocosmos that Marta defines are those that can be seen in her work. Nature is present in all of her art, not only conceptually but also visually. Her performers look like human hybrids of marine creatures, microorganisms, plants and arthropods, but might as well be individuals from another planet. In the artist’s words, “they are beings that come from parallel universes (…) The costume inspired in dark matter has the shape of an astrocyte, that is one of the fundamental cells in the nervous system, and it’s supposed that both dark matter as well as astrocytes have similar functions but in completely different scales. In the same way, there are references to cell tissues, histologic cuts and particles movement.” The interest for encountering parallels between micro and macro rises up once again. Every plastic exercise presses the right keys.

In the formal aspects, she starts off from drawing, which she considers “the origin of it all”, to arrive at installation and performance. Most recently she identifies with this last discipline, since through exploring the relationship of her own body with space, it encompasses all of the other artistic expressions: “through performance you can make your day to day life into a work of art, because the moment you are conscious about your skin, your bones, your volume and your space, everything changes, even the way you draw or sculpt.”

We also asked ourselves about her creative process, thinking about contrasting the creativity of the artist with the scientific rigour. As it was to be expected, her work is a combination of both dynamics. Her work is composed by a duality: the most complex projects require an exhaustive previous investigation, with readings and extensive research, finding the way to graphical representation that is mostly adjusted to the theory, usually through trial and error. In this dilemma, she keeps the pieces that awaken a superior sensibility, diffusing the line between art and science, appealing to her feelings.

However, she also comes closer to more spontaneous ways of creation, like the Hospital for Artists, a performance and visual arts clinic she actively participates in, held at LaJuan Gallery in Madrid. It’s in the immediacy of improvisation, given by her colleagues and peers in an absolutely creative freedom state, where she finds the most pleasure by coming off from the formal structures imposed by her regular work: “I really enjoy this type of initiatives, and many times the result of this is more satisfactory and sincere than the most restful and reflected works, since immediacy makes your truth stay more on the surface and making it more difficult to cover it with conventions and formalisms.”

To complement her artistic work, Marta imparts biology classes for teenagers in a Public Middle School. Her teaching practice derived from a need and transformed into one of the pillars that determined her personality. She says about this: “Deep under, is another performative practice in which I have to assume different roles for the students to acquire the knowledge in the curriculum.” This activity allows her to be continuously connected to science and its advances, paying attention to the new scientific studies that must be incorporated in her classes. “Many times I ask myself if I’m the student or the teacher, because it’s about a mutual learning process that does not stop, not only in science but also in human relations.” This process is reflected in her art, since these relations are incorporated in her artistic practice, which enhances and complements her.

Marta’s work makes us reflect on human beings and their capacity of acting upon the world around us. The possibility of finding similarities between our inside and everything that’s out there, gives us tools to take a critical and active stance concerning the decisions we make in our actions towards the planet. Damaging the prevailing structures in nature is damaging ourselves. Compromising with environmental care, and understanding that everything that’s out there is also in here, can shade light over our future as inhabitants of the Earth, glimpsing a new type of respectful interaction between man and its surroundings, making Art a powerful discourse tool oriented towards taking action.

ph credits: @andresaguilarcaropolaroid / @polaroidoftheday / @davidsagastamora


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