Carmen Reategui

Visual Artist

Not of bronze

Notes on the delayed art of Carmen Reategui
Gustavo Buntinx

Delaying life can also be finding a new dwelling. Inhabiting it once again. And at the same time getting out of the habit, recovering it in images and lost rituals. A maybe posthumous illusion at these times perhaps terminal for the human condition. Nevertheless, glowing even in the creative drifts of some craftspersons.

Those of Carmen Reátegui, for example, given to contemplation, or even the activation of the regenerating cycles of existence. Artistically awake. And captured sometimes by the sequential image. Pictorial and sculptural and photographic. Or performative.

And experiential: a time detained by the involving glance that reveals it to us in its hidden directionality. The return to the Origin.

A complex return to the portentous syncretism or archaic traditions that serve as sediment for that modern construction still called the West. A category that agonizes in its European centrality but that strives to regenerate in the promiscuity of our margins.

Our crossbreed and transfiguring frontiers. As in the range of mountains of corn carved by Carmen to strip the polymorph sexuality of Jesus: womb and penis at the same time. Receiving ovule and penetrating seed. The Christ Virgin. And the Pachamama (Mother Earth).

The telluric carnality of the divine, here viewed in the apparition of a menstruating Veronica. Or in the unsettling sarcophagus of steel and crystal, erected to contain just a bed of white roses, insinuating, in the fleeting abstraction of those petals, the absent body of Saint Rose.

Or in the potato that gleams from its gold-plated (not of bronze) coating. That will be pulverized by the vivifying putrefaction of the tuber. That final viscous matter is perhaps a reconciliation of nature and culture. And a displaced reply to the alchemical incitements of Víctor Grippo. Prime matter, philosophical stone, anima mundi.

The glow of the Symbolic which, to illuminate us, disintegrates into the Real more coarse. Also in the Lacanian sense of those terms. The organic metamorphosis of these works catalyzes the signal transmutation of their senses. Even mystical.

The nodal Sense that links the diversity of these works is that of the Offering.

The bread shared with the deity that inspires it. That is the evocation of our lost community. The social Eucharist implicit in rituals such as the ones generated by Carmen in her popular cause.

Or in her votive circles. Once again, the surrounding glance. The (a)morous glance: we are made of time and to transform ourselves we must recover its density, its essential slowness. Only the pause shall be revolutionary.

The golden (not of bronze) revolution: in Carmen’s lunar astrology, this female sun eclipses any insinuation by Mars. And its martial, warrior connotations so hegemonic in our joyless era. And in an artistic system increasingly inclined to the Thanatos drives.

These works are located in that line of fire. And from there they give paradoxical battle –lost beforehand- against the sadistic enjoyment that nowadays permeates the artistic scene, with its degrading interventions regarding bodies and lives. Existences despised or prostituted, sometimes even murdered (in the case of some animals), under the perverse pretext of exposing or criticizing that which actually reproduces and glorifies itself

Vis-à-vis a System seduced by the exaltation of evil, Carmen turns us back, almost naively, to an art that cares for, heals, repairs. Delay: provides once again dwelling and room in the world. In the Great Disorder that drives us crazy with the consumer belligerence of its hedonistic hastes.

There is, truly, some detail of luxury in some of these displays, that however, are a return to the spiritual and the austere. But the tension thus achieved is perhaps mythical: it sends you back to El Dorado, to the Golden (not Bronze) Age. And to the copulation of the golden staff of Manco Capac with the Earth, which in Qosqo (Cuzco) offers itself open to reveal itself as the Navel of the ancestral world.

To reconstruct: it is, finally, a prospective longing the one that nurtures Carmen’s work. And from there it radiates us. And elevates us

The Dwellings (Saint Therese of Avila)

[The End]

  1. Attention is called to the ingenious play on words: in the Andean world, the word cause also alludes to a splendid dish elaborated with yellow potatoes filled with various condiments and ingredients. All this without ever losing its Spanish connotations, including those of motor and motive of the political convictions. That herein become more complex by linking a food which elaboration and consumption unites very ample sectors of the disunited Peruvian society.