GEJIGEJI by Mariela Vita is a site-specific installation created for this occasion, after attending a residency in Japan in 2023. With this exhibition, the artist continues her research on the graphic and urban imaginary of Japanese visual culture, this time with an emphasis on the universe of video games. With sculptures, paintings and objects, GEJIGEJI confirms the virtues of the development of the artist’s installation and sculptural work, which she has been producing for more than 15 years, as well as advancing towards a new image. More virtualized and synthetic, Vita creates a weightless reality.
Curated by Carla Barbero
High-precision mechanics. The centipede walks fast, stops abruptly and takes off at full speed. It travels over all types of surfaces, defies gravity and adapts to all climates, although it prefers the tropical climate. Its gait is so dizzying that it seems to be driven by a joystick. Its name in Japanese is composed of two equal parts, a pair, like feet: gejigeji. Of course, its life cycle is a bit mysterious; it depends on environmental factors to survive. As in video games, where you start with a wealth of virtues that you use to advance, add strength, overcome difficulties and increase your life, Gejigeji is a challenge with several levels, traps and rewards.
In this new installation by Mariela Vita (La Plata, 1978), this vibrant pulse between space and things is reiterated, although different from other works. Previously, she approached places with interventions on architecture through objects and materials endowed with an animism already characteristic in her works, as in Un método inútil (Centro de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 2018), or Cuarto paso en diagonal (Centro Cultural Recoleta, 2022). In both, the conquest of the place was expanded through transformation, a sort of materialistic alchemy between sculptures and neons. On the other hand, in the most recent ones, such as Un lugar a donde ir (NN Gallery, 2022), and La luna en la hamaca (MUNTREF, 2023), we witness a significant displacement of his action. It was no longer a matter of interfering with space, but of creating new habitats. Places and beings had a life of their own, forming happy ecosystems. Now we are facing a new image, another game. More virtualized and synthetic, without exerting forces or erecting walls, spatiality is suggested by familiar references such as an apple, a coin or a staircase. Thus, this place is formed by suggestion. Distorted in their sizes and colors, the objects magnetize each other in an environment whose weightlessness, paradoxically, holds the parts together.
Continuing her research on Japanese visual culture, Vita projected this installation during her recent stay in that country. Twelve hours apart, our conversations were made possible by the encounter of opposing realities united by virtuality. Two parallels converged for a few moments and then drifted apart again. The same thing happens in video games and in Gejigeji, we are witnessing a contract with fantasy to share imaginary for a certain amount of time and to reach the value that allows us to move to another level. Almost always the clock counts down, tells us how much we have left to live or the remaining points, as the system tends to increment, or failing that, to death. Someone said that most video games are traumas with cute outfits. In this sense, never was an ending less dramatic than in a Vita work. Its attraction to the kawaii aesthetic, that expression of tenderness massively diffused in Japan’s popular culture, endows its animism with a covetable confidence. Extra-large fruits float and compete with gold coins among surfaces of color and texture in an environment reminiscent of summer. In Vita’s work, however, tenderness is not the goal, but a tactic to betray art movements and genres, as in those large-format paintings, still lifes of vegetables in chiaroscuro (2010) with carrots resting with their eyes closed. From surrealism, concrete art, through modernist architecture, manga and design, Vita’s explorations rework history with an appearance culturally associated with innocence and that, on the contrary, she turns into a means of adaptation to the environment, a camouflage. Like those velvety oranges strolling with a geometry (2021), Vita walks through art with tenderness, a costume with which she integrates the qualities of that which she desires, her superpower.