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Reaction (2017) by Olivia Malena Vidal
Reaction (2017) is a series of photographs of paintings and collages based on pages from a fashion magazine. These magazine pages, on which my art is so to speak overlaid, were not selected or ‘curated’. Rather, they all come from the same volume which I picked randomly and engaged with at a fixed rate of one page per day from the first to the last. I was made to rapidly respond to any kind of visual or textual form and appropriate it, each new page coming as a surprise. Japanese prints were a key inspiration from an aesthetic point of view; so was Asian calligraphy in its instantaneousness and rigor. Yet while these exacting gestural art forms are often compared to some of the martial arts which also developed in Asia, the element I wanted to explore was not the blow in itself, but the counter-attack specifically. In other words, how my artistic personality reacts to the most eye-catching images of the everyday. It always struck me that creation is an anagram of reaction. Therefore reacting, perhaps, may be regarded as a creative form in itself. My “reactions” to these pages is not an attempt to sublimate them, but rather to destabilize them, to disquiet them. It is a political and critical gesture. These images that, couched in shiny glazed paper and often retouched, epitomize aesthetic perfection. My interventions on them attacks this veneer by touching it, scraping it, and covering it with a crust which is my art. The supermodels receive a new layer of makeup on. Moreover, my approach is concerned with the question of how much time is spent looking at this kind of images. For most people flicking through a fashion magazine, the eyes will often linger less than a second on each page. By transforming these pages into my art, I can hope to multiply this attention span by three, ten, even a hundred. The paradox behind this act is that I increase the visual longevity of these pages as I obfuscate or altogether remove much of the information they carry.