From Jaime Valtierra

24.08.2016 - 25.09.2016

"Compounding, Transporting, Augmenting, Diminishing..."

At the time I write this text I have been in London for a week after leaving Trelex. I have already met and talk with many friends and colleges here and of course they all ask me the same question: How was it in Switzerland? My answer: Amazing!! And it was. 

So ok…how was it apart from amazing? Well, it was very much about a journey, one that originated there and developed as I got to know more about the place and its history. Knowing I had a month ahead to work and no pressure to deliver in accordance to some external program, I decided (contrary to the way I would normally go about these kind of projects) to build up a body of work without prior research or planning and purely based on my actual experience of Trelex. Of course I had some loose ideas of what I would like to do before arrival but I kept the processes open and in flux.

Studio View

In the first stages of my stay, I mostly drew from memory on small scale and went for walks to the nearby forest (which in fact totally covers the mountain range next to the house). The more I went there the clearer my ideas got, so naturally I went as often as I could! The landscape is truly stunning, a maze of trees and paths that lead into more silence; a place to get lost, but also a labyrinth with a vertical dimension. It was this actual ascension to the mountaintop that led me to the idea of an imaginary journey as a frame for the project I wanted to develop during the residency.

From then on I worked towards a number of more ambitious pieces including a performance/video piece and an installation. The second work, which arguably became the most successful piece of the project, consisted of two large pastel drawings attached to a timber structure. It was fortunate that when the idea of the large drawings came into vision, Nina mentioned some paper leftovers from a bookmaking project that were available for residents. It turned out the paper was of excellent quality!!. To prepare the large paper surface I needed for the works I only had to join a number of these sheets together, the final result was as good as it could get.

Everyone is their own cave
Pastel on paper. 200 x 160 cm. 2016

Amongst the many books on contemporary art, art criticism and philosophy available in my room in Trelex, I also found a little one about the history of the town. On closer inspection, I discovered a brief history of the house and the happy revelation that the place originally belonged to a Genevoise composer by the name of Jean Binet and his wife, a tapestry artist. It was, however, a very different topic that called my attention from the book, in this case, a photograph of the old Trelex train (that now modernised) takes you from Nyon to the town. 

When looking at the photo I remembered Nina showing us (as part of the customary ‘introduction tour’) the old Train Station House that now hides at the back of the house garden. This old wooden cabin has been part of other resident`s projects for installations or as a quiet creative corner. In my work, however, it took on a more ‘metaphysical’ role as I imagined the old Trelex train stopping once more for a ride into the mountain. This was indeed one of the ideas with greater resonance as the project grew and so it became central for the large drawing that constituted the main piece in the final installation piece. 

Compounding, Transporting, Augmenting or Diminishing,...
Pastel, charcoal and oil pastel on paper. 220 x 300 cm. 2016

The great majority of my time in the last two weeks at Trelex was dedicated to complete this large piece and the rest of the drawings and also to put a structure together that could hold them. At the very end, the complete installation was placed outdoors near the house and documented there. My intention behind it was to follow an early desire to place works in the landscape. This was originally a wider concept in the project and it involved taking a number of pieces deep into the forest.

Is there Free Will?.
Paper, pastel, charcoal, oil pastels, timber, clamps.
Dimensions variable. 2016

Unfortunately, no time was left for me to fully develop this idea or to work further on a performance piece in the forest that might have evolved in turn into a video piece. The research material I managed to put together for this work was, however, informative to the other pieces I produced. Moreover many of the ideas I gather from some of my reading material (originally intended to supplement this piece) were fundamental to the development of the large installation. Also, constituent to the whole project, although initially a marginal element, was my reading of Max Weber`s ‘Spirit of Capitalism and the Protestant Ethic’. Inspired by some of the theory in the book I develop a series of video sketches that could become part of a more complete piece on a different occasion, perhaps during another visit to Switzerland.

Video still. 2016

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