Gian Spina

by Caroline Carrion

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Gian Spina's practice (b. 1984) challenges narrative summarization, despite itself being narrative at its core. His production cannot be separated from his life and personal trajectory – or perhaps the opposite is more accurate. Spina, who takes her condition as a nomadic contemporary artist seriously, draws from her travels and the countless places where she lives the motivation and context for her works. From their work, in turn, come invitations that take them to other places, in a kind of feedback loop.

One can see in the artist's first works, mainly installation works, a concern with language and phenomenological issues. Projections, mirrors, play of light and superimposition between static and moving images were tools mobilized by Spina to create undefined and transitory spaces, in which architecture and the urban environment also played an essential role. As of 2011, works appear in which the narrative and the spoken or written word gain weight. In this transition, the artist also stopped focusing on installation, photography and video as means in themselves and began to dedicate himself to strongly performative interdisciplinary practices – a consequence of the very procedural nature of his work.

The concepts of history and memory, both individual and collective, seem to offer a guiding thread that allows the reading of the different phases of his production. Works like The story of the history which points to another story [The story of history that points to another story] (2013), The day when my rage woke up before me [The Day My Anger Woke Up Before Me] (2013), and To all peoples the fire (2016) start from political actions in response to socio-historical questions, namely: the ideological representation of the colonial catechesis of Indians in a public (and therefore secular) space; the maintenance of sites and symbols of the African slave trade by European countries; the impeachment of elected president Dilma Roussef in 2016.

Other works depart from his personal memory (fictionalized or not) and from our mythological, poetic and literary collective memory. This is the case, for example, of Every minute a poem dies (2015), in which the artist tattooed a poem about the death of poems on his hand, dooming him to disappear after the slow but inevitable shedding of the region's skin. In so much everything, 2016, personal, literary and political experience converge: in November 2015, Spina was in Bento Rodrigues (MG), along with other volunteers who rescued animals and helped the population affected by the rupture of the Fundão dam. Poems written during and from the experience, photographs, found objects and the clothes he wore during the period were combined with the audio of a text he wrote in an exhibition at Centro Cultural São Paulo.

Gian Spina He was born in sao paulo; lived, studied and worked in San Diego, Vancouver, Bordeaux, Berlin, Frankfurt. Between 2016 and 2017, he lived in Ramallah, where he taught at the Palestinian International Academy of Arts. He then moved to Athens, where he joined the Capacete Residency Program that took place at Documenta 14. In March, the artist presents a solo show at Casa Nova Arte Contemporânea, in São Paulo, after which he leaves for a residency with the Spring Sessions program, in Jordan, from where he will travel to Rio de Janeiro.

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