Jamie Denburg Habie


My work seeks to reveal unexpected relationships between multiple bodies (human, animal, earth and celestial) as a means to challenge dualistic perceptions of reality and propose tools for healing. I do this primarily by creating paintings that serve as scores for movement, sound and meditation, or that reveal shared materialities between beings. The paintings are informed by living in postwar Guatemala, where violence against bodies and the exploitation of the earth and its resources are interrelated, and developed through research into materials, somatic practices, meditation, and the neuroscience of consciousness. The resulting artworks seek to make the interconnectedness between all things more visible, often by offering a set of instructions that create the conditions to experience nonduality, or the dissolution of the mind/body & subject/object binary created by western thinking and advanced by late-stage capitalism.

Some works, for example, contain minerals and elements found across bodies and soil, such as copper and calcium, highlighting shared materialities. Others shed light on the interconnectivity of somatic experience and spatio-temporality, such as a series of paintings that serve as scores for blinking, which, when done rapidly, alters the perception of time through the modulation of the body’s dopamine torrents. Another series explores the relationship between the passing of time and the volcanoes of my hometown, where their altitude makes time pass ever so slightly faster than at sea level according to the law of relativity. Seen this way, time is not an independent force acting on us, but a subjective process shaped as much by space as the electrical and chemical pathways in our bodies. 

Other works explore the relationship between language and the body through evolutionary neurobiology. The neurons that code for language evolved from older cells in charge of processing the sensations of being a body in space, resulting in the brain registering sequences of words much like it would physical movements. Seen this way, language is truly incarnate, and the brain/body divide that is the basis of western thinking is not only illusory, but potentially dangerous: separating your mind from your body, I believe, is the first act of violence towards the self, which later permits you to act violently towards others and the world. To make visible the implausibility of separation, I often paint serpents, beings that are linear and curvilinear at once (like language) and whose bodies appear to be their heads and vice versa: where does the head end and the body begin? 

Lastly, the desire to spark altered states of perception through art is guided by the belief that all things are conscious. My ultimate hope is that revealing a shared language across beings and materials can be honed as a technology of the mind and harnessed as a tool for healing the separatist thinking that threatens to push us towards extinction. 

GlogauAIR Project
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Former artists