In her work, the interest of Cuban artist Susana Pilar is strongly oriented towards her past and history. From her personal experience, she focuses on subjects such as the body, gender, race, and social issues. Pilar creates transdisciplinary projects using various media, such as video, photography or new media, as well as writing and sound installations.
In her series Lo que contaba la abuela… ( W h a t G r a n n y t o l d …), specifically designed for the AKAA 2018 monumental installation, Susana Pilar discloses a subject that deeply characterises her work: the black woman and self-consciousness, through her family history and particularly her Sino-African roots. The seven glowing boxes incorporate pictures of women from Pilar’s family, enlarged to the artist’s size. This installation allows these women to return from oblivion and relate to each other like in a family album, where each woman has an infinity of stories to tell.
Pilar reproduces the portraits of her great-grandmother, her grandmother, her two great aunts, her mother, her sister, and herself. The entire series is displayed for the first time at AKAA, specifically designed for the space. Using a set of mirrors, the artist conveys her desire to generate a polysemy of meanings and, above all, to integrate the audience into the discourse of the piece.
Susana Pilar draws the visitor’s attention into the deep gaze of each woman who shaped her history.
In this work, Pilar also pursues very intimate research. Through the history of her female ancestors, she builds an investigation and digs into her past in search of her Chinese (male) ancestor, who arrived in Cuba at the end of the 19th century. These fragments of lost stories lead us to imagine – through different periods of time – the stories of each member of her family. By rebuilding a photographic genetic code that reveals her roots – highlighted through black and white images – Susana Pilar draws the visitor’s attention into the deep gaze of each woman who shaped her history.
An article by Laura Salas Redondo
Featured image : Sans titre, from the series “Lo que contaba la abuela…”, 2017. Photography on white opal paper and clear plexiglass, lightbox, mirror box. 53 x 180 x 20 cm. Courtesy of Susana Pilar and GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana.
This article was written for The Art Momentum | AKAA Paris Artpaper. [French version inside]
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