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Vacation. Retreat and recover 





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Vacation: from "vacare": Be unoccupied.

Vacate: to vacate an area is to go away from it, hence emptying yourself from it.

Vacant: a "vacant" lot has nothing in it.

     The empty, the vacant, the unoccupied, are some of the ideas that Irene Cruz (1987) addresses in her latest photographic series Urlaub. Vacation. Retreat and Recover. An anxiety of emptiness floods her artwork. The emptiness of bare trees, the uninhabited house, the cloudless sky of a cold and faint blue, the lonely road or the abandoned Ferris wheel. It is a necessary emptiness which allows one to be emptied only to be fulfilled later on, to recover. That is how Irene Cruz unifies her reflection about vacation: “Vacation: from vacare: be unoccupied”. In ancient times it was also understood like that, as a retreat from the tumult of the city. In this sense, the artist digs deeper into the concept that spreads around all her artwork, the return to nature; understood as a system that runs the cosmos, from which we all come and to which we must return in a constant flow.

     But this long-awaited emptiness, even if profusely esthetically reflected in much of the series, is merely suggested as an outline. The fence impedes entry into the place she yearns for. Her figure tries to spin around with the Ferris wheel, bury her feet into the mud or soar with the trees, in an effort of transubstantiation in accordance with her monistic sense of the world.

      The autumnal landscape and the abandoned Ferris wheel divide into two the idea of vacation that gives tittle to the artwork. The old amusement park Spreepark (Berlin), holiday resort, uninhabited and in ruins, is covered by the autumnal undergrowth that highlights its decline. The feeling is, from here, ambiguous and disturbing, distinctive of the “Stimmungslandschaft” (Emotional landscape) of the German romanticism that the artist has already captured in previous series. The German title Urlaub (vacations) is a direct reference to it. The gothic ruins of Caspar David Friedrich have been replaced by modern civilization and its attempt to make use of the time given by means of the ludic, in a retreat in which spinning on the Ferris wheel makes it possible to go back in time, until one reconnects with one’s inner child. Now the park is closed to visitors, it is a forbidden place, wherein the bushes fused with the ruins¸ there is no retreat now, only the wind spins the wheel.

      Multiple reflections are woven into this last series by Irene Cruz although, as is common in her artwork, they culminate in a deep statement about nature, and on this occasion also about time and space, or rather its lack thereof: the emptiness. The realization of this project has also supposed a lucky reencounter with the light that inspired her first series “Innes Tales” (2011) in Berlin; as well as a return to a project initiated in May, during the spring, when, as in the last days of autumn, she can capture the soft blue light that casts all over her photos. 

Sol Izquierdo de la Viña, Art historian & curator

A recurring dream of my childhood was one where I left to the streets and started wandering.  After endlessly wandering, I suddenly realized that I was walking barefoot. I was briefly terrified. But it also compelled a strange sense of pleasure in me: a release, and a harmony that I hardly ever felt during a state of sleeplessness. I do not know how Freud would analyze this emotional ambivalence. I guess that his positivist conception of dreams would lead him to detect in my psyche some kind of unresolved complex or trauma. I must confess I have never been a fan of Freud’s theories. In my inner self, I find the reductionism of psychoanalysis asphyxiating. It is usually said that Art can express, through a poetical praxis, an idea, an intuition, a feeling. Art is what makes visible, through signs and symbols, the invisible. It is what makes you see, live and remember from an intentional drive. Irene Cruz (Madrid, 1987), through her vast intimate and universal imaginary, invites us to recognize what we already felt without being fully aware. She makes us wander- like in a dream that we had already forgotten- between the certain and uncertain. Floating, between what is known and what is imagined; between fear and desire.

Nicola Mariani, Journalist & curator

About Seele VIII

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