Artist María Sánchez brings her own perspective on the universe of Jorge Oteiza in Agiña, a 14-minute audio-visual piece, in which she examines the idea of abandonment, failure and the ultimate meaning of art and creation, as it relates to “Tribute to Father Donostia”, created in 1959 by Jorge Oteiza and architect Luis Vallet in the natural surroundings of Agiña.
The piece is being presented at the Oteiza Museum, where it will be screened from 7 June to 29 September 2019. It forms part of the Hazitegia programme, promoted by the Museo Oteiza and the Huarte contemporary art centre to generate new spaces for reflection on the work of Jorge Oteiza from the perspective of contemporary creation, and enjoys backing from Fundación Caja Navarra and Fundación La Caixa.
The project is based on the artist’s meeting with a group of fishermen whom she invited to join her in a walk up Mount Agiña, in the townland of Lesaka. Their route takes them past the Agiña megalithic site, containing prehistoric cromlechs, tumuli and dolmens, to the site of the “Tribute to Father Donostia” (1959). This work comprises a sculpture by Jorge Oteiza and a chapel designed by Luis Vallet, which takes the form of a ship beached in the midst of the landscape. Entering into a dialogue with the Neolithic cromlechs, the principal elements of the work—with which María Sánchez seeks to explore the figure of Jorge Oteiza—are nostalgia, emptiness, silence and chance.
María Sánchez first became interested in the sculptor when researching her thesis on artists who gave up their creative work at an early stage in their lives. After exploring Oteiza’s poetic work and reviewing the documentary archive at the Oteiza Museum, Sánchez visited the site at Agiña and decided to focus her project on this meaningful environment. “My idea was to bring Oteiza symbolically down off his pedestal and examine him from the field of the personal. After visiting Agiña, I became interested in it as a hidden place, with an element of mystery and I began to work with it, starting from the idea of abandonment and failure”, she explains.
Luis Vallet’s chapel, designed to recall a ship that has run aground on the landscape, provided the metaphorical content that led to her encounter with the group of fishermen. “I was interested in experiencing the situation of the boat embedded in a field, a vessel out of context and out of service, which meant that it was fated to remain forever incomplete. All of these elements allowed me to connect it to the idea of failure linked to Oteiza and to the ever-incomplete function of art.”
The audio-visual piece is being screened on the second floor of the museum. It relates to the sculptural piece ‘Tribute to Father Donostia’, created by Jorge Oteiza in 1959 as part of his intervention in the space at Agiña.
The work of María Sánchez primarily involves interventions in public and intimate spaces, which she documents using visual resources such as photography and video. She was selected for the Encontro Artistas Novos, Argentina (2016) and the International Luis Adelantado Call for Young Artists (2011), won the Fundación Santander Prize for Artistic Output (2014) and was awarded a Roberto Villagraz International Fellowship (2011). In 2014 she published Mieldeabeja, selected at PHE 15 as one of the best photo books of the year.