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Bestiario de Lengüitas [Bestiaire of Tonguelets]
2017 / 2020
video, sound pieces, visual scores, wallpapers, costumes and props

Azpilicueta’s project Bestiario de Lengüitas stems from her encounter with the work by Argentinian-French artist Lea Lublin ; the series of enig­matic medieval tapestries La dame à la licorne; the lit­erary aes­thetics of the Neobarroso Rioplatense; Chilean reg­gaeton; imag­i­nary char­ac­ters and vagabonds from the infra-world. All these references are translated into a script, which serve as a narrative thread for other works, exploring the polit­ical dimen­sion of desire in rela­tion to affects; the bio­cul­tural, biodig­ital and bio­phys­ical body; the affective quality of language; and gender dis­sent in an aes­thetic con­text.

The project initiated in 2017 in Paris during a residency at Villa Vassilieff – Pernod Ricard Fellowship, through a series of working ses­sions with artist and designer Lucile Sauzet, film-maker Hélène Harder, chore­og­ra­pher Pauline Simon, performers Jean-Baptiste Veyret-Logerias and Emmanuelle Lafon, the­o­rist Myriam Suchet and curator Virginie Bobin; as well as through col­lec­tive work­shops with various groups of stu­dents. It later developed in Buenos Aires in conversation with curator Laura Hakel, for the monographic exhibition Cuerpos Pájars / Body-birds at the Museum of Modern Art, the first retrospective of Azpilicueta’s work (November 14, 2018 – April, 2019).

In 2019 the project — conceived in dialogue with curator Virginie Bobin — will deploy itself under a new, site-specific form (its most ambitious to date), at CentroCentro, Madrid, bringing together traces from its previous stages of development as well as new works and collaborations produced during a research and residency phase in Madrid, notably with a local LGBT choir, MA choreography students, botanical specialists, parfum makers, architects and designers.

The notion of “drag”, as developed by artist and theoretician Renate Lorenz in her last book Queer Art, A Freak Theory, will be central to this part of the project:

“(…) le “drag” peut faire référence aux rapports productifs du naturel et de l’artificiel, de l’animé et de l’inanimé, aux vêtements, aux radios, aux cheveux, aux jambes, à tout ce qui tend davantage à produire des rapports aux autres et aux autres choses qu’à les représenter. Ce qui devient visible dans ce drag, ce ne sont pas des gens, des individus, des sujets ou des identités, mais plutôt des assemblages — assemblages qui n’oeuvrent pas à “faire du genre/de la sexualité/de la race”, mais plutôt à “défaire” ces catégories. Si “je”, comme l’a écrit Judith Butler, suis toujours constitué.e à travers des normes que je n’ai pas moi-même produites, alors le drag est une manière de comprendre cette constitution, et de la reconstruire sur son propre corps. Mais en même temps, le drag est une manière d’organiser un ensemble de méthodes efficaces, laborieuses, mi-amicales mi-agressives, pour produire une certaine distance par rapport à ces normes (…).”

A theater of all senses

Mercedes Azpilicueta’s script was originally written to serve as material for a performance. So far, it has led to the production of drawings, costumes, props (what Mercedes Azpilicueta calls “visual mnemonics”), wall-papers, rehearsals, conversations, sound recordings and films. The exhibition at Centro Centro in 2019 is conceived as a translation of this script into a spatial dramaturgy, leading the visitor through the promise of a performance that may or may not exist. The exhibition will thus provide a theatrical experience, playing with the presence/absence of bodies, voices and stories, but also with the spectacular architecture of Centro Centro.

Inspired by the series of tapestries La Dame à la licorne, the project involves all six senses — the sixth one being mysteriously evocated on the last tapestry as “A mon seul désir” (To My Sole Desire), which has led to various religious, theoretical or erotic interpretations. Touching, smelling, tasting may be experienced or evocated, inviting the visitors to perceive the exhibition with their entire body. However, the acts of seeing and hearing will be particularly emphasized and reflected in the exhibition. The viewer’s gaze will be solicited but also mystified, through a game of dissimulations, transparencies and mirroring, reflecting on the objectification of bodies through art history but also through cultural and political lenses. Hearing, on the contrary, invites to a suspension of the act of seeing as our main way of apprehending and trusting the world around us. Not only will the exhibition welcome voices that may not be often heard, it will also affirm the political potential of listening, in an environment defined by the overflow of “news” (true or fake) and saturated by information.

Concept, script: Mercedes Azpilicueta
Curator and producer: Virginie Bobin
Research assistance: Myriam Suchet
Camera and sound: Hélène Harder
Mobiliary and exhibition design:
Mercedes Azpilicueta, Ana Ansuín
Graphic design: Vanina Scolavino
Costume design:
Mercedes Azpilicueta, Lucile Sauzet
Textile assistance: Laura Fernandez Antolín

Video-performance: Emmanuelle Lafon, students from Paris 8 (Master Projets Culturels et Artistiques and Master Scènes du Monde), Javier Villa, Hélène Harder, Virginie Bobin, Pauline Simon, Jean-Baptiste Veyret-Logerias, Mercedes Azpilicueta.

Bestiario de Lengüitas [Bestiaire of Tonguelets] is supported by: