Isaac De Reza
Isaac De Reza (Mexico City, 1996) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in London and Mexico City.
His practice is based on performative action, departing from emotional commitment that seeks inventive ways to express the meaningfulness of embracing the world in ? presence. He explores the realms of poetic meaning, the in-between spaces of cognition and legibility, as well as the politics of the body in contemporary cultural systems. Highlighted group exhibitions include QueerDirect at Sadie Coles The Shop (March 2022, London), “Aufstrebende Künstler'' at Proyecto Paralelo (Feb 2022, Mexico City) and “Neonorte” at Fundación Cultural Providencia (August 2018, Santiago de Chile).
Q, I know you work between Mexico City and London, what significance does this have for your process? Could you tell us more?
I’ve lived in London for 6 years now; moved here to study my BA and I’ve been coming back and forth between these cities since. I produce different works depending on where I’m at and that comes from me being immersed in a different context that even feels like a different life. In formal terms, I think more sculpturally in Mexico as the landscape has a heavy, material existence overflowing with concrete. I’m thinking of highways, massive bridges, government buildings, and also prehispanic archeological sites. In London, I’m mostly embracing the politics of my body, my skin color and my social behavior, as it is a pristine and surveilled city that challenges our notions of how people engage in the contemporary economic system. My practice needs this challenging interaction to become as versatile as I want it to be.
Q, Your work can cross disciplines in painting, film and performance. How do these merge for you?
I see my works as the result of exhaustive thinking methods and strategies. I feel impregnated by ideas and images that come from dreams and spaces of liminality and the limits of conscious attention that haunt me. I see the physical result almost as accidents that result as a poetic healing. I make sense of the world through art, and in result I end up with these bastardized physical forms that merge not only mediums but also styles of representation (call it traditional metalwork, fashion film aesthetics and urban art).
Q, What’s the relationship between the body and performance art for you?
The body is a powerful tool in art as it creates an immediate sense of empathy to the viewer. In my performances, the body is a vessel for materializing states of mind (borrowed from Reto Pulfer’s “Zustand” definition). Call it fear or shame, but also enlightening and awareness. I aim to push the limits of what people may think they’re capable to do with their bodies through the fictional staging of my performances, and so performance becomes this tool to embrace what we are capable of doing in the greater context of existence.
Q, In your Sadie Coles HQ performance, you worked with Nan Zhu (@aezhvu)and Jasmine Imren (@jasmineimren) to produce a highly collaborative performance in the lobby area. Could you tell us a bit more about the process of collaboration during performance?
Performances often require more than my own body to materialize, so there is a constant need for a community of people I trust that are willing to engage in an often physically demanding way for the sake of art.
The performance’s starting point was a highly subjective text I wrote in which I aimed to materialize a state of mind of the “in-between”?. The initial “vessel” was therefore literature. Then the three of us had a solo moment in the performance where we each materialized these concepts with full independence. Therefore the performance became more of an orchestra where we worked together and separately whilst following the initial tune.
Collaboration became a place of listening to the other and being in harmony, which was a new strategy I wanted to engage with as my previous performances have depended on very strict notions of what I orchestrate to happen. Later after the exhibition, I realized that the performance developed in such collaboration that now the work should be authored as not only mine, but from the three of us.
Q, You’ve often spoken about recreating different physiological states in the audience through your practice such as the feeling of being in limbo or trapped. How does this relationship take place in your work?
My interest on how the viewer reacts comes from my research in how mediatized culture (social media, film, etc) has a huge influence on people’s lives. I was mostly interested in representing a state of mind that lingers between labels, definitions and cognition. And therefore the idea of a “limbo” becomes not a feeling of being trapped, but rather, is held in between definitions, which in and of itself is a space of exciting potential.
I’m currently researching different notions of thresholds of in-betweeness from the point of view of queerness (through José Esteban Muñoz), Capitalism (Merlin Carpenter) and the concepts of the “Real/Unreal” (through Jason Babahk Mohaghegh). So far I have no clue or control on how these enquiries will materialize at the end, but I’m nonetheless committed to the concept.
Q, What does your daily routine look like when you're making art? Is there one ?
I don’t have a daily routine. What I do everyday is militantly read various texts at the same time. I think of art while at work, listening to lectures or whilst cooking.
After weeks, if not months, of panicking and being mesmerized by how life is such a complicated and beautiful process of becoming oneself is that, from time to time I “vomit” physical work. I often make it very quick with a lot of drawings, writings and preparation beforehand. Then I spend months looking at it, photograph it and finally show it to a few people to get feedback. I’m not attached to my physical work but I think of my thinking process with loyalty and warmth.
Q,You recently graduated from Central Saint Martins, how does that feel?
It’s been an intense year since graduating. Whilst at CSM, I spent plenty of time outside the institution trying to discover what and where the art world was. There was a side of my practice back then that could be seen as institutional critique. ince graduating and having no institution to critique, I luckily started discovering what it is that I want to talk about through art in the next years of this very long career.
Q,What are you working on next?
I’m immersing myself in sculpture again and trying to train myself on bronze casting, surfaces and expanding the metaphysical meaning of solidness as layers, and layers as surfaces. I’m recovering some text I initially wrote on a performer’s chest for a small video that is on my website that reads, “I will be gone long before the Empire dies”. I’m trying to put weight on these letters as they become a challenge, an object to be held or lifted and as a training of becoming oneself. Written language has been for a long time a tool to materialize my practice.
I’m also currently organizing a group show in Mexico City and applying for Master courses in continental Europe.
Edited by Adriann Ramirez
Published by Queerdirect