Maria Leon 15º 45º 75º 90º

Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt art IT, Berlin 2017, 16 pages, 30 x 23 cm, Softcover, English

Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt art IT, Berlin 2017, 16 pages, 30 x 23 cm, Softcover, English


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María<br />

León<br />

15°<br />

45°<br />

75°<br />


NWIO, 2016<br />

installation detail

NWIO, 2016<br />

handmade paper from newspaper,<br />

relief engraving, newspaper clippings,<br />

paper paste, magazine sheet and iron structures<br />

dimensions variable

NWIO, 2016<br />

installation detail

emit ni tsol lost in time, 2014<br />

curtains modified with newspaper clippings<br />

dimensions variable

The Tyranny of Speed or,<br />

the Motor Peril and Its Remedy, 2016<br />

hubcap and newspaper<br />

dimensions variable

Sin título, 2016<br />

iron bars and piece of newspaper<br />

200 × 7.5 cm

Traces of Truths and the Mediated Surface<br />

Text Kate Brown<br />

At the peripheries of an iron frame, newsprint clippings<br />

dangle precariously, threatening to fall into the negative<br />

space that blooms between its perpendicular bars. María<br />

León’s sculpture »NWIO« could be an editor’s table, a<br />

skeletal remnant from a disaster or an apocalypse. Around<br />

the frame, information lingers on the edge of extinction.<br />

Largely dedicated to mining the formal and symbolic potentialities<br />

of newsprint media, the work of the Spanish artist<br />

investigates its own materiality by way of destruction and<br />

fragmentation, questioning the looming obsolescence of<br />

the medium itself. León’s works embody a profound quiet, as<br />

though they exist in the stillness of an aftermath.<br />

Aftermath of what, exactly? Take the current advertising catchphrase<br />

of the »Washington Post«: ‘Democracy dies in darkness.’<br />

Such dramatic words only begin to respond to the fears<br />

surrounding the perpetually uncertain now, as we wonder<br />

whether we are backing onto a cultural precipice. We cannot<br />

speak about recent years without eventually coming around<br />

to certain topics: what is fake or fact, vaudeville politicians,<br />

media blackouts, evidence denial, oppression of journalists.<br />

The news as an entity is in deep crisis, and its viewers are in<br />

a crisis of faith. As so much of what is seen and heard quivers<br />

on the brink of rumour and gossip, current media bodies call<br />

themselves into question; doubts circulate about both the<br />

form and content of news. In this landscape, there is urgency<br />

for artistic investigation into the structures that frame our notions<br />

of truth and traces of it, our cultural and political memory,<br />

and our projections of the future.<br />

León’s works orbit various facets of newsprint media, though<br />

not in isolation. Rather, she explores digitalism through printing<br />

and print processes. The digital screen and its flatness recur<br />

as metaphor, and a minimalistic language is woven across<br />

paper pulp and torn pages. The image as raw data or a summation<br />

of pixels can be seen in León’s treatment of images,<br />

where the newspaper becomes device. Articles are broken up<br />

into words or letters, almost like code. As with »The Tyranny<br />

of Speed or, the Motor Peril and Its Remedy«, the aesthetics<br />

of pace and progress overtake and digest old ways: an automobile<br />

hubcap is stuffed with a crumpled article, and another<br />

hubcap obfuscates the view of a folded-up tabloid format or<br />

a torn sheet.<br />

By implementing various techniques of post-production (editing,<br />

cutting, filtering, pasting, trimming and image correction)<br />

by hand, as opposed to using digital methods, León ensures<br />

that uncertainty pervades. The question continues to circulate:<br />

What is being lost? The artifice of digital language<br />

that León incorporates belies the tangibility of decomposing<br />

waste – the quintessence of a day-old newspaper. Components<br />

of each narrative are fragmented or erased. In the video<br />

work »Printing Press«, broadsheets run through the printer,<br />

our perception tilted at an unusual angle as images and text<br />

streak by in a blur of abstract colour and shape. The television<br />

hangs as if in an airport terminal or waiting room, the meaning<br />

of its content undecipherable. With »Deutsche Tageszeitungen«,<br />

León scratches out every piece of content on several<br />

printed pages with a ballpoint pen and then hangs them, as if<br />

to dry. Silhouettes of letters peer through, but just barely. As<br />

in »Layout«, where León creates her own pulp from recycled<br />

newspapers and bolts them together against the wall, we perceive<br />

flecks of ink. Through rather unlikely means the works<br />

recall Reductivist painting styles and Dadaist narrative-making<br />

through a lyrical nonsense built from miscellaneous words<br />

and image pieces.<br />

There is a subtle femininity to León’s studio processes and their<br />

outcomes. In the studio, she embraces elements of traditionally<br />

female practices that have been contained in the domestic<br />

domain. Images are cut, ordered, collected and archived in a<br />

manner reminiscent of scrapbooking, home décor and craft.<br />

Her works often begin this way, at an intimate scale, before<br />

being incorporated into larger sculptural forms. With »emit ni<br />

tsol lost in time«, León breaks an image apart and weaves it<br />

back together in new compositions on beaded curtains. Now<br />

adorned, each individual curtain can be draped and pulled<br />

into further forms. The negative space of the wall seems to<br />

reference a boundary between the private and public spheres,<br />

as the curtains engage in an almost flirtatious activity of<br />

showing and hiding. A welcome to strangers but a control for<br />

pests, these curtains might blow in the breeze, quiet and passive<br />

editors themselves.<br />

Newspaper is not a material built to last. It burns first and it<br />

burns quickly. It eradicates itself daily. It is a fragile thing with<br />

little archival integrity, and it does not fit easily into the canons<br />

of artwork. Yet, be it stories of war, unrest, discovery or<br />

scandal, everything newsworthy is comprised of small dots of<br />

CMYK on thin grey paper. It is a delicateness rendered invisible<br />

by the power of its content. María León is acutely aware<br />

of this contradiction within her practice, and by bringing it to<br />

light an interesting shift occurs. We understand how fragile<br />

information and content can be. We become aware of our<br />

desire for knowledge and our very human condition of curiosity.<br />

Simultaneously, we encounter a sense of loss. We feel<br />

deep disquiet as our collective memory is erased, the remainder<br />

unsettling yet picturesque.<br />

born 1984, Mérida, Spain // 2007 Bachelor of Fine Arts,<br />

Complutense University of Madrid / 2010 Master of Fine<br />

Arts, Complutense University of Madrid // 2011 »Kaunas<br />

Biennial Textile 11: Rewind-Play-Forward« // 2014 »Back to<br />

the Future«, Embassy of Spain, Berlin // 2015 »XVIII Bienal<br />

Internacional de Arte de Cerveira« // 2016 »14° Mostra Arte<br />

Gas Natural Fenosa«, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo,<br />

A Coruña / 2016 »CALL«, Luis Adelantado Gallery, Valencia /<br />

»Werkstoff«, Cruce Arte y Pensamiento, Madrid / Bilbao Arte<br />

Fundazioa Grant, Bilbao // 2017 »Goldrausch 2017«, Kunstquartier<br />

Bethanien Studio 1, Berlin / »EMBED_IMG«, Tenerife<br />

Espacio de las Artes, Tenerife<br />

María León

www.marialeon.net<br />

Imprint: »15° 45° 75° 90°«<br />

Published by Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt,<br />

Goldrausch Frauennetzwerk Berlin e. V.,<br />

Händelallee 1, 10557 Berlin. A professional<br />

development programme for female visual artists<br />

funded by the European Union (European Social<br />

Fund) and the Berlin Senate Department for<br />

Health, Long-Term Care and Gender Equality.<br />

Project Direction Hannah Kruse<br />

Course Coordination Birgit Effinger<br />

Administration & Finance Kira Dell<br />

Project Assistance Nicola Schüschke, Janina Vujic<br />

Text Kate Brown<br />

Design Jenny Hasselbach, Rimini Berlin<br />

Copy Editing Sophie Perl<br />


Europäischer Sozialfonds<br />

www.goldrausch-kuenstlerinnen.de<br />

Photography Jenny Hasselbach, María León,<br />

Nacho López (courtesy of Luis Adelantado Gallery)<br />

Image Editing Eberle & Eisfeld | Berlin<br />

Production Management Ellen Nonnenmacher,<br />

Berlin<br />

Printing Ruksaldruck GmbH und Co., Berlin<br />

© 2017 for this publication: María León<br />

and Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt<br />

Published in conjunction with the exhibition<br />

»Goldrausch 2017«, 9–23 September 2017<br />

Studio 1, Kunstquartier Bethanien<br />

<strong>Maria</strong>nnenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin

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