The love between us

por Carlos García Montero

The love between us

An approximation to the work of Fernando Rubio

Performance art is the act of doing and acting, not through representation but with the living and the real, as an experiment in art and life. It occupies space and time. In Fernando Rubio's work, intimacy and reflection on how to inhabit space; the denaturalization of objects and the proposal of constructive structures and places come together in an interesting tension / reflection with the narrative, the situational and hesitate on time. The public’s body acts in his work as a founding aspect of the composition of the piece and its visuality. Architecture, landscape, daily life, as well as singular actions, recognizable and moved from their usual place, are some elements in his work.

In the play When We Talk about Love, in a hotel a woman and her double, located in the next room, meet and face the viewer through different actions: watching dozens of films, walking, napping, drinking, listening to music, doing a therapy session ... among many other activities. No doubt inspired in part by Raymnod Carver and his [1] classic What do we talk about when we talk about love; however, it is deeply rooted in the experiences of Fernando Rubio. Don't be distracted by reverence; the woman is her ex-partner Laura Limp, mother of her son. The artist allows you to review the bonds of love in a radical way. A genuine exploration of the mystery of loving, nothing more relevant these days.

The objective of When we talk about love is not only to explore love, but to generate bonds between human beings. The polarity embodied in the presence of the double in the next room offers a new range of emotions and dissociates the emotional attachment that exists with the woman. The double is a local artist. What kind of links are established between these people? Artists must establish lasting ties with viewers. The contact begins on Instagram through DMs, the actresses send information to the participant, and reflecting through specific questions about love, then the calendar of situations is sent. This contains all the actions that are going to be carried out in the morning, in the afternoon, at night and sometimes at dawn, during those four days in the hotel, to which the public can attend by appointment. The public can choose to do a meditation with the performer, or have dinner with her, or have a meeting in the hotel sauna, in the pool, take a nap with the performer, or have a meeting with a philosopher inside the room, among many other actions. The actions take place at the same time in both rooms, the performers are dressed the same and only share the same space when they have breakfast, lunch and dinner. People can meet again with the performance and people continue to communicate through the dm, many times even overcoming the character's mask and allowing real contact between the actress - outside the character - and the audience / participant. The work inquires into how far the link with the public can go, being essential the exploration of the resources of this era of digital transformation accelerated by covid 19. When we talk about love is a site-specific durational performance that was presented in Art Basel cities within the Faena Festival, 2018, for more than 100 hours.

The poetics inherent in the work of Fernando Rubio presents us with a point in which fiction helps to reach reality. It achieves this through the memory of the people, complicating these concepts just a little, we embody there the depth of the cultural feeling of humanity. There is an interesting interdisciplinary tension in his work, an obvious base of theater and a cathartic intimacy with literature and film. The meeting in the pool of When We Talk about Love is inspired by a text by Wong Kar Way, the construction of certain works follow visual narratives that recall a beatnik memoir or a travel diary. The artist is motivated by the fact that the viewer faces an imprecise zone between fiction and reality. Seeing and meeting, we are not only performers and we are not only an audience. The link is not only mediated by the work, but creates a space that is evident due to the opening of a specific area that opens the work to the public. Some areas in which the artist wants to enter are, for example, the previous moments of the work and also what can happen later, what kind of links have been generated, in an area of the real; as if there were a fissure to be treated, a kind of inner spring, which can be deconstructed, built and shared from start to finish to be able to be repeated.

In Everything By My Side you have to decide whether or not to get into bed with the actress. Normally there are 7 beds and 7 people from the audience go every fifteen minutes. The work has been carried out for up to 8 hours a day. In this work, the construction of an aesthetic is evident, through a visual experience. What does it mean for a human being to go to bed, with whom to go to bed. This entire system of knowledge is nothing more than a reflection on visuality, how we look, towards and where we look. The Performance Festival of the Corriente Alterna Visual Arts School [2] was a good laboratory for the transfer of performance to virtuality and expanding its scope to several countries with various casts such as Italy, the United States and Argentina and in more than 13 countries [3]. The artist uses the camera as a symbol and metaphor for actions that reveal this intimacy. What is the bed? It also forces us to ask ourselves what are the capacities of a work of art from its most visual perspectives and at what moment does it connect with the performative, with the active. The movement within two zones: contemplation and participation [4]. It is a constant that in the works of Fernando Rubio there is an approach with the viewer and that this approach implies some kind of decision-making that makes him a participant. All within an aesthetic encounter constructed as a visual experience. All that is next to me is a short-lived performance but at the same time it takes place for many hours.

In the work Time Between Us, an “austere” house appears in the landscape, this appearance is in dialogue with the different places it inhabits and attracting new elements. The actor, who is apparently a writer, repeats the texts outside the house [5], in this repetition new ways of saying are constantly appearing; reflecting on the activity of writing through the obsession of this mysterious character to repeat certain words. It is fascinating to meet the challenge of a man (the performer) who for five days tries to be someone else; it is simply the most basic and universal law of the actor.

The created body extends, it is embodied by a different man in each city, each performer. The performer's relationship with the body is central, with the body that performance demands, this body is always wanting to be someone else. This body feeds and shapes itself through its relationship with literature, the history of the visual, painting as writing, literature, music, among other actions that this man performs permanently for five days.

The performer in this attempt to be another, chooses the fundamental aspects on the passing time during these five days. The play is a critique of the investment of time and of time shared with strangers and passers by, represented at the opening of the house to the public. Exploit the possibility of inhabiting a place that is going to be abandoned. Always with the slogan for the performer that there are only five days for that body that is being created. There is a past, but it is nebulous, that body and its experiences are inhabited in those five days and everything ends there.

Performance is taking the body to another territory, also progressively reappropriating it. It is in this aspect that we can appreciate the substance that Fernando Rubio extracts from the theater and that is worth noting, the great permanent rehearsal capacity of the work, the power to inhabit another body, which in this case is another house. This house appears generating meanings and performance practices, also transforming visuality. The presence of a house leads us to reflect on the places we inhabit and how we inhabit them. It leads to the reflection of how the objectuality installed in the public space manages to resignify it. The dynamics is transformed with the object (house) and the event - composed of multiple events - that the house proposes. These events unleashed by the appearance of the house are diverse and warn of an interesting mimetic possibility, but only explored through certain actions, revelations and reactions of the public / participant.

What houses can we build ?, precisely in spaces where it is not built. What are the spaces of the urban world like? What does it propose, but a loss of permanent public space, a proposal towards less singular encounters. This appearance, this house, allows a new series of imagined possibilities, a new space of resistance to the loss of spaces for reflection, an experiment for a new type of public space, which is a place for the creation and communication of new ideas.

The artist is currently working on Ways to look at the sky, an installation that creates a space for people in different parts of the world, both in the urban context and in the framework of nature, to come together to look at the sky. What do we come to this planet to do? Ways of looking at the sky works as a platform that can generate new dynamics and ideas. It is a site specific installation, with the suggested possibility of being an instructional one depending on how the public interacts with the work. The work proposes various types of approach. The visual, the contemplation of the object and also its deeper relationship, its use and immersion. It also proposes the collaboration of local astronomers for astrological observations at specific times and also in order to teach classes in the center of the space[6].

Ways of looking at the sky embodies an observatory accessible to the audience, which is a sculpture and a poetry machine. It is in these spaces of interdisciplinarity that Fernando Rubio's work shows the tension and rupture of the limits between spectator and participant, in this case wrapping it in something old. In various cultures throughout history, in some to the present day and in general in all civilizations, the study of the sky, contact with the heavens, this natural and daily relationship linked to broad aspects of human existence were a fundamental part of the knowledge of the population.

Qualities that we can find in the works of Fernando Rubio: diversity, spatiality, re-thinking of various spaces, the idea of community and permanence. Positions that have been excluded from most scenarios and western scenes. More diverse encounters and particular experiences. More everyday situations, meetings and exchanges, generating links between people. An artist interested in performance as a process of identifying more generous platforms, or carving towards a possible future. A means of delving deeply into ourselves and taking the temperature of today's world[7].

[1] In addition to Ways of looking at the sky, Fernando Rubio is working on sculpture, play / performance “El Mundo Invisible” not yet realized, winner of the Bicentennial Scholarship from the National Fund for the Arts of Argentina; the development of it in architectural plans is being financed by Tecnópolis, the largest theme park in Argentina.

[1] «Carver not only gives voice to a social class hitherto without name and without history, that of the new poor of the consumer society, the new“ proletariat of the psyche ”, stripped of utopia, but also invents for it a language hard, ironic and laconic that, refusing both the delusions of postmodern fabulation and the temptations of a new realism, reestablishes the magical circuit between name and object, and assembles man with the space in which he lives »(Marisa Bulgheroni, L ' Indice).

[2] Festival held on April 30, 2020 with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Peru, The MALI: Museo de Arte de Lima, the Peruvian Curators Association, the ICPNA Instituto Peruano Norteamericano (Peruvian North American Cultural Institute) with the participation of Fernanado Rubio along with the artists Juan Bethancurt , Justin Hoover, Oliver Bulas, Elizabeth Wurst and DJ Alan Malcom.

[3] This work has been presented in Italy, the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Holland, Russia, Korea, Singapore and virtually in Peru.

[4] Study topic in my previous research work on performance and presented at the Conference “The Myth / The Ghost: The spectral presence of Tino Sehgal at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru, (MAC), 2013.

[5] The first text was written by the artist in Cuba, from there he decided, in 2012, to write the texts for the work every time he was away from home. The scenarios for writing these years have been public toilets, airports and airplanes, in different countries, always far from his home. From that moment on, that body made text turns out to be an alter ego of the artist, a double. This multiplication of the body, when it inhabits different spaces, is one of the fundamental themes of the work.

[6] The different phases of the project are being planned with expectations of permanent exhibition in Argentina, Peru, Colombia and the United States.

[7] In addition to Ways of looking at the sky, Fernando Rubio is working on sculpture, play / performance “El Mundo Invisible” not yet realized, winner of the Bicentennial Scholarship from the National Fund for the Arts of Argentina; the development of it in architectural plans is being financed by Tecnópolis, the largest theme park in Argentina.