Text for: This is the garden of Eden, just take the key and open the door
Solo project at group show Touch the reality, Kunstraum Niederösterreich curated by Ursula Maria Probst.
Sofia’s work oscillates between the cultural, spiritual and epistemological universes of Latin America and its trans-Atlantic ‘other’, in a space of thought where indigenous Mayan and Aztec traditions encounter modern Euro-Asian visions of the world. This divide turned out to be a fertile ground for her creativity as it keeps influencing her views on the power dynamics in contemporary world and how it shapes the relationship between the individual and society. The notion of duality (dear to pre-Colombian Mesoamerican cosmology), which implies the interdependency – and disharmony – between microcosm and macrocosm, is a pertinent issue in Sofia’s working agenda. Raising awareness about it makes vital part of her endeavors to bridge the gap between the single unit and the whole through what she calls the ‘unity’. This most notably concerns her interest in the origins, evolution, and prospects of humankind, now split into many conflicting fragments without clear-cut and secure perspectives of the future. Behavioral and thinking processes make an essential part of Sofia’s work: her efforts to address tensions between the One and the Many are deeply embedded in her awareness about hierarchies and asymmetries of the world where the dynamics between “core and peripheral societies” (Wallenstein) keeps defining our everyday realities.
Her contemplations/meditations of this kind combine material and immaterial elements into textual and visual narratives that engage spectators to directly confront some ‘irrational’ or ‘alternative’ realities, otherwise unimaginable or unperceivable. By implicating the viewers of her work into concrete situations, Sofia pleads for transformative physical and mental experiences in almost ritual gatherings around objects of visual perception - and not without a good reason. At the very heart of her image-making there is a need to foster the sense of personal and collective responsibility for processes that aim at regenerating the idea of humanness (the ‘unity’) in the face of constantly progressing dehumanization. This impulse for a positive and qualitative change is driven by her conviction that active and continuous citizens' participation can contribute, across various channels of communication (including visual art and the politics of display aligned with it), to the less asymmetric global power dynamics in the actual geopolitical conditions of decline, crisis and misbalance.
This is also the case with her latest project whose imperative title – Just Take the Key and Open the Door – acts as an ironic take on advertising machinery mobilized by the neoliberal logic of consumption in pursuit of dreamlike, artificial or inexistent horizons. In fact, the project addresses the limits of power rhetoric in the context of global inequality whereas the notion of humankind’s metamorphosis remains at the center of her attention. Through her intimate examination of how the human experience of the world, in all its complexity, is still dominated by injustice, hypocrisy and false promises of a ‘better future’, Sofia Cruz reconsiders the geopolitical cartography of power from her own perspective and advocates more balanced approaches to issues that are vital to beings who still dare to call themselves ‘human’.
Moreover, this project reconsiders the processes of systematic violence upon individuals under conditions enforced by racially and economically constructed power circuits: it reminds us of divisions among world populations that keep being created, strategically and programmatically, by ‘invisible’ financial/corporate oligarchies in order to maintain the principles of colonial exploitation around the globe. One of the most brutal results of these processes is the ongoing degradation of human beings to the status of disposable material. In this sense, while confronting the reality of classification, segregation and discrimination (often ending up with the literal extermination of communities under threat), Sofia’s new project blends mythology, technology and historical facts into a semi-fictional, seemingly humorous narrative that, in the collective organism of a contemporary neoliberal world in crisis, acts as a fermenting agent of positive, almost healing change. Through her combinations of words and images she stages a puzzling playground where a viewer loses neutral grounds and becomes instantly implicated into the game of power rhetoric. Sofia Cruz is not a performance artist, yet she insists on performative potentialities of a spectator: whenever confronted with slogans that ‘open the doors of Paradise’ towards a better future where ‘freedom, brotherhood and equality’ rule, every participant in Sofia’s ritual, no matter how much seduced, is confronted with a moral dilemma: to accept one of the ‘keys of happiness’ hanging on the wall or not? By putting the idea of humanness at the center of attention Sofia Cruz invites us to move, over time and space, physically and intellectually, but always fearlessly, in search of other possible ways of being, perhaps less seductive. She invites us to join her “in search of the miraculous.” (*)
Marko Stamenkovic (Vienna, August 20, 2016)
(*) In Search of the Miraculous: The Definitive Exploration of G. I. Gurdjieff's Mystical Thought and Universal View by Russian philosopher Pyotr Ouspenskii (1878-1947) has left an indelible mark on Sofia’s thought over the last years about the man’s position in universe and the prospects of humankind in urge for alternatives to the rapidly growing and deteriorating logic of global neoliberal capitalism.