Meet the Artist // Maria Ferrer
Maria Ferrer is an artist from Santiago, Chile currently living and working in Berlin, Germany. Her work reflects on human existence and the multi-temporalities that affect it, consciously and unconsciously. From the micro scale; meaning the biological and metaphysical inner processes, to the macro scale; such as the relationship with the non-human and with the interspecies ecosystems.
Her creative and constructive media are related to performance and installation. These provide the basis for an interdisciplinary work where the performative appears, either through transformations in the configuration of the piece focusing on a dynamic sensory experience, or a staging in which the body remains almost immobile, acquiring a sculptural character. Using the body as a material, she seeks to develop interactive situations that put its symbolic and historical weight in tension, with the spectacular nature and unpredictability of the action itself in the here and now. Thus, time acquires a significant relevance in her proposals.
Hello Maria, thank you for having me! My first question for you is, how did you start your artistic practice?
I started my practice with sculpture. I wanted to learn how to work with metal for a long time, and I had the opportunity to get into metal work during my first year of university. I also had this feeling inside me for a while that I wanted to work with my body, and that’s how I got into performance. I was a bit scared at first, but now that I started doing performance it became a big part of my practice, and I just can’t stop. I’m trying to find ways to mix sculpture with performance, and do performances that are also kind of sculptural.
What attracted you to the material of metal?
To be honest, the fire! I like to see the flames when I weld, the sparkles. Also, the smell. It’s quite toxic, but I love it. And I like that it gives me the opportunity to work with my whole body. When I have to cut or bend the metal, it requires a lot of strength.
It seems like the process of welding is almost a performance in itself?
Yeah, totally! Before I start working I need to do some stretching, otherwise I will have pains in my neck and in my back. I have to be conscious of the posture of my body, how much pressure it can handle. It’s also kind of meditative to work with metal for me. You need to be very focused. It’s like you’re entering a kind of trance.
This meditative aspect also seems to play a big role in your practice. What are your other inspirations?
I started working on the systems of the body, what happens inside of our bodies, and how the systems have a relation with other things that are not part of the physical body. I realised through sculpture and performance that my practice started to become ritualistic.
Can you develop a little on these rituals, and the role of spirituality in your work?
During my last year of university I had a professor who was really interested in our “autobiography”, and through writing and reflecting about this, I realised that being raised as a Catholic, going to Catholic school and going to church every Sunday, actually inspired me a lot in my art. When I was young I loved going to church. I loved the chants, the smell of copal, the colours of the stained-glasses, the gold, the dresses of the priests… the whole sensorial experience and the aesthetic richness was very impressive to me. When I was a teenager I realised that I’m not resonating with this dogma and doctrines anymore. In the education I’ve received, women were judged a lot for doing certain things, like, “you shouldn’t provoke men”, etc. I stopped being a part of this, but I still live in spirituality. I realised that in my work, I was trying to find new personal rituals to reconstruct and relearn to get in connection with my spirit beyond religion.
Do you think the city of Berlin has a particular impact on your practice right now?
Yes, it does. In the work that I am working on now, I’m embracing a kind of post-apocalyptic, kind of raw aesthetic, and I think that Berlin has a little bit of that. Also, ever since I’ve been living here, I noticed all the places and events that are sort of “meeting points” for a lot of people to get reunited. It can be parties, exhibitions, and also, because of everything that is happening now, protests. That’s also a theme that interests me. In the piece that I’m working on right now, I’m trying to create one of these “meeting points”, through music. Music is very important to me, it heals me in a lot of ways. In my last work I’m mixing performance with sound. Berlin has inspired me a lot because of all its sound performances, and its experimental multidisciplinary shows.
Besides the city of Berlin, what motivated you to come to GlogauAIR?
I’ve been wanting to come to Berlin since I’m 21. I thought coming here would be a really nice opportunity, and I wanted to do a residency. I heard about GlogauAir, and it seemed to really fit me. I read the program, looked at the promotional photos and videos where you can see groups of artists together, it seemed really adorable and motivating. You can also learn a lot while you are working with living and with other artists. There are opportunities for open dialogues with people of different countries, different cultures, and the possibility to find “meeting points” in everyone’s practice. I found that super interesting, because once you are out of the university it’s a little bit more difficult to have this kind of conversation, to share, to receive and give opinions. I thought doing a residency after finishing art school would be a very nice experience.