María José Crespo

artistiek onderzoek - installatie - sculptuur - video

Growing up in the Bordertown of Tijuana has made me question the way I inhabit limits as a woman in unclear territories. These types of spaces reflect a bit of who I am: they are indecisive, yet they disavow any attempt to be controlled by way of disorientation, making evidence appear in the form of symptoms. I think of the territory as a body that carries with it the traces of experiences and memories; where symptoms are subjective, and things speak to me through textures, sounds, or gestures that are not immediately legible. These observations reveal the way these spaces have been bounded, by producing subjectivities in bodies as materialities found in different corners and ditches of these zones.

The gateway as a point of encounter - In collaboration with Madeleine Ruggi the exhibition features sculpture, video, print and sound to draw relationships between personal site-specific experiences during visits to the Port of Amsterdam where we witness the vastly connected world of commodity demand. The work exhibited at PuntWG in Amsterdam, shifts our previous mode of research from the audiovisual presentation format towards material experiments applied to ideas around the relationship between our own bodies gaining access to and being confronted with trading systems, territories, maritime history and port infrastructures.
Flaws in negotiation with non-cohesive sand, 2022 - Installation: Fence pipes, metal, glass, acrylic, wood, plaster, digital print, rebar, and digital video. - This exhibition was comissioned by Artpace San Antonio, Texas where I made a residency. During this time I explored on-site and in archives how different landscapes, objects, and mechanisms around the Rio Grande - Bravo are part of a history that can be expanded into multiple materialities and observed as diverse layers of experience in different settings. Flaws in negotiation with non-cohesive sand is an environment where clashing acts of self-governance and politics embedded in physical forms question the way history is displayed and therefore understood, contrasting the infrastructure of the space in itself with the intimacy that materials offer, unfolding in a series of structures informed by gestures that administer water and land at the border between Mexico and the United States during the 20th century.
A set of conditions, constantly being updated, 2022 - Installation: acrylic, ceramic, digital print, metal, plaster, wood, digital video. - By unfolding unclear spaces as zones of possibilities, the installation operates as an orientation device that positions the audience to encounter the in-betweenness of a border crossing zone and surveillance mechanisms employed to administer ambiguous semi-informal spaces of existence. Meanwhile legality cannot slim into the most quotidian spaces of negotiation, other gestures expand local limits and are performed by agents that claim the territory because they own it: at the Port of Rotterdam seagulls being displaced by policies protecting companies, and at the border entry points in Tijuana, deported migrants known as Los Gaviotones jumbling the order of the crossing waiting line. This set of conditions is proposed as a double-vision zone composed of elements that embody the failure of land administration, addressing contingent relations on materials within their surroundings and mediators like seagulls and gaviotones. These relations are plural and positioned at different times as visual layers that may expand, nevertheless, they remain the same: a permanent conflict between what is concealed and what is revealed.
Govern yourself accordingly, 2022 - Three-channel video installation. - This work is a collage of experiences and stories in Spanish that have also sometimes been auto-translated into English. These automatic translations, which come from layering different voices and materialities as found objects – pieced together words and images from the Internet – act somewhat like surveillance footage from a Tijuana–San Diego border website, or images from a police chat, from a social media group that posts daily updates on the best currency against the dollar, legal treatises, various stories from the streets of Tijuana, and observations on the different devices employed to administer this ambiguous semi-informal space of existence.
Elements of erasure, 2022 - Installation: acrylic, wood, concrete, digital print, plaster, thermal blanket, copper. - Ambivalent feelings are floundering authoritarian arenas like the borderlands where alienated bodies fear, hope and doubt at all times building a tolerance for ambiguity to understand the in-betweenness of things, where layers, wrappers, and pleated folds clash with a possibility of being stable and surrender, but they choose not to, permeating glimpses of self-governance on the materialities that surround them. Materialities at the borderlands compose an extension of plural bodies: objects, feelings, structures, tools, and laws that together collide with the institutional ways of administering them like a boundary marker and a treaty. Through the lens of legality as a way of collecting, I collaged different border treatises about land and water throughout the history of the boundaries between México and USA, together with a colonial memoir from the demarcation of boundaries in Nigeria. By making visible the different styles and typographies of the files, I am interested in their materiality as found objects on the internet, highlighting the arbitrary gesture of gluing them together, erasing locations and names to question legality as a tool that updates and deploys a border anywhere.
An excess that limits bodies to exile, 2021 - Installation: jute, plaster, watercolor, cotton, metal and copper. - The structure holds the in-between boundaries to modulate the territory through the body in order to understand my displacement process regarding language, body, and territory. The way I expand the in-between is materialized by my body’s gestures and traces, which is a way of mapping and thinking of my body as the first territory from which I am researching, articulating an ensemble of bodies, built by different forces. The layering of materials creates a collaboration, Is it volunteer or forced?
A barbed sun of possibilities, 2021 - Installation: thermal blanket, digital video, halogen lights, plaster, metal, copper mesh - The installation highlights zones of intensity as spaces of simultaneous situations where boundaries are being performed and seen through CCTV surveillance videos from a Tijuana border checkpoint, fictions of casted found objects revealing the passage of people against a thermal blanket drop scene, halogen lights spotlighting fenced bodies. Rather than thinking of these spaces as processes of exile and exclusion, I am interested in the possibilities of inventing new negotiations and new forms of living. Borders are thick and don’t have fixed limits. They can be encountered anywhere because they are constantly being redrawn, relocated with administration processes and fictional tools, leaving traces in emergent and disoriented bodies.
Variaciones para clasificar paisajes, 2019 - Installation: ceramic, sound. - The installation organizes the landscape through assemblies of ceramic that work as archives generating sound taxonomies that describe their characteristics as territory. The project studies spaces without a clear definition, with abandonment, and generally in the margins of the cities. They are spaces that do not express power or submission, they are unclear. By being aware of elements such as vegetation, minerals, limits, location, living beings, materials, and the game of relations that are in between them, categories are being assambled by making field recordings or creating sound fictions with the found materials.
Significados dormidos, 2019 - Photography - A line of mirrors placed deliberately reproduces a non-existent space in the reality. Divided into unequal parts, that space enunciates a sentence which lecture is slowly digested, as when we articulate syllables to learn words. When placing a sculptural object of these characteristics, a spatial order can intervene with another one to include a different state of things: a landscape, a building, or even an institutional context, including the spectator.
How hard do you try when seeing?, 2016 - Digital video - The work proposes poetics syntaxes about public space when observing the reflexes that covers up the city of Lisbon in Portugal, which is characterized by her type of light. The found reflexes are analyzed by their individual characteristics in order to organize a map of formal equivalences considerating the qualities of the urban space they occupy, creating a sonic system of reduced listening that makes us hear the language of the reflexes, like an inner alphabet of light. Is through the image that I am interested in making evident the brief attempt of each mark to turn in language, but never into word, leaving a trace of their existence as a simple gesture of expression without accepting their stability to later disappear.