Six questions for
Andreia Santana

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Andreia Santana.

Artist Andreia Santana
Lives in New York, USA

How do you describe your own art practice?

The trans-disciplinary artistic research I’ve been developing primarily concerns alternative histories of feminist agency in archaeological work. By querying marginal archives and narratives, B-sides, anomalous objects, and phenomena, I create installations examining the politics of gendered labor and inter-species relations in these new historical interpretations.

In the form of sketches, drawings, or descriptions, these speculative narratives have contributed to developing an artistic work that invites reflection on issues such as intersectionality and new forms of contamination of space and time.

Expanding through mediums such as sculpture, installation, and performance, my work is defined as practice-based and experimentation-driven with different materialities or scales, approaching all bodily forms as relational and constantly changing and rendering the studio space as its primordial laboratory and gestational space.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

At the moment, my practice has a more physical and intimate dimension, using organic materials (such as fish glue smuggled across the ocean in my personal luggage) and sculpture techniques (a mix of traditional and experimental processes are used to alter, slump, swell and sag the glass as it submits to its metal opponent, such as mold making, glass slumping, and printing) combined with the transformation of found objects, collected on daily walks.

My artistic practice explores the intersection of biology and identity, incorporating living matter and performative gestures into sculptures and installations. Through this process, I reflect on how these politicized materials form our understanding of the social constructs of archeology, history, and gender.

Existing as body and bodily support structures, these sculptural forms take on abstract qualities, repeated and distorted across biomorphic armatures, suggesting an experience of the body that is increasingly intertwined with and mediated by the social and the political.

By reflecting on its qualities of defying Western dichotomies, I aim to focus on the material interchanges across human bodies, animal bodies, and the broader material world.

What was your first experience with art?

I drew a lot everywhere and on everything but I soon became interested in object making more than anything else. I have memories I revisit often of dismembering and stealing parts of a friend’s toys to later (secretly) assemble them with mine.

I also had an obsession with erasers. I had a big collection of them in all different colors, shapes and consistencies. Most of them were stolen, used and manipulated until they turned to tiny bits and pieces so small and rounded they looked like glass marbles.

My favorites were the old-fashioned “Pelikan” ink erasers, made with sand and so abrasive that they would always dig a hole in any surface.  – as the ink was finally gone so was the paper. I also had an interest in ancient erasers made out of bread. I still have a fascination with the palimpsest and erasure as ideas that instigate or trigger a certain type of art-making.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I started to include glass work in my metal sculpture practice in 2020, during the pandemic. While spending time isolated in my apartment, I was thinking a lot about the materiality of my work and how it would be affected by the social consequences of what we were experiencing globally.

The idea of blowing glass at a time when social distancing and masks were encouraged was intriguing for me as the glass vessels kept the breath and saliva of the blower. I remember when some museums started to make their collections available for online viewing through data bases or virtual tours while its physical space was totally empty. This allowed me to be familiarized myself with Torino’s Egyptian Museum collection.

At the time I was interested in investigating the composition of archives, the material conditions that allow something to be arcived, the compulsions and desires that evoke the appearance and disappearance of objects, the cultures and micro-cultures of circulation, manipulation and administration that allow an object to contribute to the resistance of specific social formations.

I focused on their collection of Soul Houses (Casa Dell’Anima)—a strong part of early Egyptian funerary practices usually placed on the surfaces of graves with the intention of providing accommodation and sustenance for the deceased in the afterlife. These fired clay models could take many forms from basic offerings-trays to replica houses or cult chapels.

I wanted to perceive these Soul Houses as well as other artifacts partially destroyed or damaged by pests, bacteria, fungi, or any other natural disaster suffice as shelters for new inhabitants and become animated with a spiritual essence through the occupation of these species, placing themselves as constantly changing and incessantly contemporary forces.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Emotional and financial stability.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I will have to say that was the art and practice of Curtis Cuffie. I first got acquainted with this artist’s practice after seeing an exhibition of his work at Galerie Buchholz in New York’s Upper East Side. I was completely stunned by what I was witnessing and shocked I’d never heard of his practice before, even though I now live in the Bowery, the same place, Cuffie lived (unhoused) and presented his artwork on the streets challenging the more curious and attentive eyes of dwellers and residents.

It was breathtaking to see the works in person—now removed from the outdoor neighborhood landscape, their primordial space of inspiration, presentation, and source – and later read about it more closely upon the publication of the homonymous book featuring brilliant photographic documentation as well as the most compelling artist statement I ever read written by Curtis Cuffie himself.

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