El sueño de Mirra y otras constelaciones
Architecture is–in a fundamental way, although perhaps not apparent-a space for writing. It always says something, even though it appears sparkling and translucent, like the vestibule of this renovated Museo Amparo. Therefore it is possible to rewrite over it, intervene it, to make it tell a different story than the one it narrates.
Embroidery does not seem to be the best way to tell a different story. However, like the white walls of the museum, it says a lot while seemingly wanting to tell nothing at all. What does its silence tell us? The historical silence of women and the anonymity in their writing is notorious. Embroidery is a reminder of this: there is no author and serves more often than not merely as an ornament. Praiseworthy stories, we are told, are sculpted in marble and raised in monuments with names and dates. However, the themes and images that are braided in embroidery are public and popular-plant and animal motifs, ordinary scenes. Nothing very heroic: no battle and no victorious soldier from a noble family. Embroidery tells its story without names. What is telling is that local narratives of the textile trade are not anonymous. It has a long tradition in Puebla and is interwoven with its noble past and some of its most distinguished men, whose streets are named after. The splendor of the textile industry arises in the nineteenth century, just as popularity of the image of the China Poblana begins, with her embroidered blouse and shawl, and as anonymous as the embroidered motifs.
All architecture speaks and tells its story. One has to question it, and the city it inhabits. Thus, the stitches on this imaginary embroidery, this dream of giant pixels, not only occurs on the museum walls but in local history and imagination. You have to enter it and leave it. Full of holes and gaps, we must therefore continue weaving it. It still shows its frayed edge which has to be threaded. It is the viewer’s sight, body and memory, that has to weave it. Like any story, this embroidery shows as much as it hides.
This is where Mirra–Catarina de San Juan-dreams, a woman sewn onto local tradition, becoming a mythical character and, therefore, phantasmagoric: she is present to the extent that she is absent, just like female and domestic work, like embroidery, like the memory of forms and collective dreams that are now written on these walls.
The work of Regina Silveira is marked by two particular interests: technical experimentation with graphic arts, and interventions in architectural spaces. Both overlap and interchange throughout her career. One could well understand her work as constant crossovers between those spheres: between graphic records, between spaces, between perspectives. In them, the view and body of the spectator are challenged and become trapped, since they do not detonate mere formal exercises, but fine nets of sensorial seduction.
Regina Silveira has said at some point that her political work "lies in the assault to perception.” As her interventions in architectural spaces reveal, through estrangement, illusionism, fiction, and even absurdity, we are dispossessed of the space we believe belongs to us. Perhaps these are not innocuous spaces and may require more attention than we usually give them. One strategy that she has often resorted to is the trompe l'oeil, the pictorial projection on architecture (betriegerje is the Dutch term for still life: a small deception). Art history (and politics!) is full of deceptions and fictions; their existence not reducing their effect on how we perceive the world.
Presented here is an installation and a constellation of twelve scale models of past projects. Regina Silveira does not see these models as prototypes but as a way to exorcise the ephemeral nature of her work in architectural spaces. The scale models serve as a means for the permanence of her interventions, always temporary. It is somewhat unsettling that motifs of shadows and footprints are common among the images inscribed on buildings. It seems that the arrogant grandeur and permanence of ambitious constructions are confronted with the fleeting inconsequence of the temporary: footprints, tire paths, a bright reflection, a shadow, pawprints, clouds. The fragility of these motifs appear as a provocation because they usually appear on the walls of that house that seeks to escape time –the museum, that repository of objects wanting to be relegated to oblivion.
Graphic arts-in their particular forms, from lithography to digital prints – also work precisely against oblivion, but rather than preserving the objects it invokes their remains: traces and testimonies of something that was once there. The graphic does not seize to be a fantasy, i.e. a creation from fragments of images, prints and memories. For Scholastic philosophers, phantasmata were creations of the imagination stemming from sensations derived from experience: sensitive inventions. In this regard, the interventions conceived by Regina Silveira are ghostly inventions, flashes of the imagination that slide through the hard walls of buildings:architectural phantasmagoria.
by Alberto López Cuenca