Since her last show By Chance at moniquemeloche in Chicago in 2004, Carla Arocha has been exhibiting extensively in Europe with solo shows at the MUHKA Antwerp, Kunsthalle Bern, Koraalberg Gallery Antwerp,and F.R.A.C. Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, which travelled to André Schlechtriem Temporary, New York. Arocha is now working collaboratively with Belgian artist Stéphane Schraenen and will present a site-specific installation for the exhibition Marauders of hanging mirrored Plexiglas, photographs, and printed wallpaper.
“The work of Carla Arocha is partly based on the paradox of the seemingly undesired deconstruction of the modernist appearance, on the transparency also of the strategies that functioned as respirator for the modernistic aura. Arocha’s response on such paradoxes of late modernism never take the form of pure comment or unambiguous stand, it is more the condition in which she works. Her interest in fashion and industrial patterns is of a whole different kind, but notions of pattern and decoration – for that matter two taboo words in every modernistic art idiom – are important to her work.
Arocha studied biology followed by an art education in Chicago, the city where the New Bauhaus was founded. Chicago, as one of the capitals of modern design, must have offered a particular context and must have been of great influence. In any way, her perception of modernism seems to connect more to a notion of Bauhaus design and architecture – when it comes to a basis in natural science as well as to the sometimes modular, ‘adapted’ appearance – than to an affinity with minimalism. Furthermore, in her reflection on commodified forms of modernism (or broader, of modernity) the art context of her native city Caracas (Venezuela) plays an important role. The generation of artists that emerges there during the 1940s wants to create an art that is universal and modern. Quite fast they seek association with the European geometric abstraction. In the rich spectrum of constructivist and geometric-abstract movements after 1950 in Venezuela, it is in the first place the optical and kinetic tendencies that attract notice. It is very clear that Arocha cannot be described as an optical or kinetic artist in the traditional sense. However, she does use the demarches between formal clarity and optical complexity, as these are present in op art, for an arsenal of meaning that is entirely her own, or even for her own mechanism of meaning. When in the first half of the 1990s Arocha starts exhibiting her work, she attracts attention because of the unintelligible character of the position she seems to take with her work based on constructivist outlines. Circling around the paradox of the modernistic (design) object – with its claim for universality that seems to clash with an ambition for the self-evident and the unproblematic nature of the commodity – and around the impossibility of a modernistic image, Arocha makes appealing and seductive creations that deal with subjects of invisible danger and bodily discomfort. In this perversion of modernity, Arocha does not opt for a post-modern strategy. She does not choose to cite or sample, but perpetrates something we could describe as vampirism. Like a vampire is not alive but undead, Arocha’s work is not modern or post-modern, but unmodern. A seductive effigy that, like a virus, instigates a destructive power that was already present under the surface, while the surface itself preserves its gleam, deluding as always.”
excerpted text Gerrit Vermeiren (c) Stammer Studio 2005
Carla Arocha(b. 1961 Venezuela, lives Antwerp, Belgium) will be included in the 2007 Brussels Biennial: Art as Borderland curated by Barbara Vanderlinden. She is one of four artists representing the Flemmish Community in the travelling exhibiton Metamorphosis III curated by Christa VyVey opening atL.A.C. Lieu d’Art Contemporian, Sigean, France then onto Museo Abello, Barcelona Spain. Her work is in such public collections as The Art Institute of Chicago, Benedictine University Chicago, British Airways O’Hare International Airport Chicago, F.R.A.C. Bourgogne France, Fundación Banco Mercantil Caracas Venezuela, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Museum of Modern Art NY, and Stiftung Bern Switzerland.