Julia San Martin: Club Cementario
Proyectos Raul Zamudio and Empty Circle are pleased to present Julia San Martín: Club Cementerio.
The solo exhibition of Chilean artist Julia San Martín consists of painting, work-on-paper, sculpture, animation, video, and a digital print. The title refers to her interest in history as memeto mori as well as our contemporary, borderless political landscape fraught with calamity manifesting in a myriad of social challenges including poverty and economic inequity, climate change, diminishing human rights, and the slow dismantling of democracy. A recent work by the artist that spoke to the interconnectedness of historical events regardless of borders, entailed her addressing 9/11; but not only the 9/11 familiar to those in the USA, but coupled with the overthrow by the CIA-backed Chilean army of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. What might seem like coincidental occurrence, for San Martín, entails a host of actors, some affirmative while some nefarious, but all players on the world stage acting out their political scripts rooted in unresolved traumas emanating from and buried deeply in the unconscious.
With this in mind, the artist has devised a personal iconography of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and mixture of these, to articulate a politics of resistance and affirmation both externally in the form of activism, but also internally by any means necessary including hallucinogens. In Wonderland (2022), for example, we encounter the artist in a fantastical setting of massive psychotropic flora including the San Pedro cactus, which is native to her country, and peyote which is indigenous to northern Mexico and the Southwest USA, and the amanita muscaria mushroom. The title also draws from both the children’s novel by Lewis Carroll, to its many references throughout popular culture. This work is bracketed by a sculpture titled Scarecrow. Consisting of a hand-made, human-scale, scarecrow, the artwork has a degree of context-dependency as the “body” inhabiting the clothes are constructed from materials from where it is exhibited. In this sense, the artist makes literal as well as metaphorical connections; the former because of materials located around the exhibition venue she has incorporated into the sculpture, but also metaphorically by way the scarecrow’s “testicles”. These gonads are actual Christmas tree ornaments in the form of Confederate flag balls. These balls are, in turn, part of the sculpture made from a t-shirt of Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential nomination for the Republican party. The ornaments here, however, are not “testicles,” but are now “nipples” on a female’s breasts that have been drawn with red lipstick and superimposed over the t-shirt.
Julia San Martín lives and works in Chile but is also a USA citizen and lived in New York for numerous years. She has had solo shows and been in group exhibitions throughout the world including the 2013 El Museo del Barrio Biennial in New York City.