I discovered Elena Dahn‘s work in an exhibition she did in Buenos Aires, back in 2010. Later, in 2011, I showed her work in a small place called Sentimental Confusion. In the meantime, Elena Dahn, who spent a season in England, radicalized her matière in an astonishing way, making it go deeper and get denser.
Dahn is in the process of full development of her work, she has left behind certain narrative aspects that were present in her previous pieces, making space for results that are both simple and complex in simultaneous. Actually, she had already exercised a certain clean method in her sculptures where, departing from certain materials (particularly silicone and plaster) she was able to generate shapes characterizable as polysemic. What is also remarkable is her demonstrated ability to integrate parameters born from the historical experiences of contemporary sculpture. Thus, her attention to the potential shapes of each material, its flexibility, ductility, and use of both the soft and the hard in her production of the form displays similarities to those practices of Process-art or antiform.
The economy of work, its detachment from any story, and its concentration on the shapes of the materiality of each medium echoes post-minimalist practices. And yet we are far from a pure formalism. Thus, if the properties of the liquid plaster deposited in a band on a paper (raised vertically) are taken into consideration by Elena Dahn, two decisive elements come together here: the inscription of the body within this stretching movement of the semi-liquid material on the paper and simultaneously its capacity to be spilled by gravity. In most of her impressive murals, a formal dynamic and a materialistic approach coexist at the same time. This gives her works a double geological and organic aspect. They depend on the art of folding and assume an almost sexual sensuality that is confirmed without needing to pass through the image. In her way of working the surface, some of her procedures do not evoke the marks and crossroads of the brush on the white canvases of Robert Ryman. And with its way of fitting the full and the empty to shape the matter of the painting and make its surface breathe. Just like him, she inscribes a gesture that assumes at the same time the movement of the hand, its trembling and its part of subjectivity but in a sort of claimed neutrality. We cannot avoid evoking Eva Hesse and her use of the material against the use of a minimalist rigor.
We also think of the organic shapes of Luisa Bourgeois or more recently of the “ambiguous” of Ana María Maiolino. It is no coincidence that part of her production encamps between volume and relief, between sculpture and painting. Her strength is being able to work with the report while working on the stress and articulation. So in her sculptures in this thread that the sculpture has in its twists and folds are also linked. The link starts from the work as changing what must be changed you can see it in certain sculptures by Germana Richier where the stems are as strong as drawings in space. But we must emphasize that when these references are evoked, it is to leave a testimony of what the sculpture of Elena Dahn knew how to assimilate to find her universe. It shows the place that a certain number of women have occupied in the new developments of contemporary sculpture, particularly in Argentina. Elena Dahn is there, with some others, one of the most impressive figures.