My work is rooted in drawing and explores private and public frontiers through a nexus of incisions, folds, spits, embraces, casts, and molds.  I am interested in the extraction of matter as a symbolic act of purification and also of blasphemy and satiety - slicing, spitting, licking and holding an object allows me to milk its shape, to make it visible.

The pigments I use also speak of a cycle: the ashes of hardwood trees turned into activated charcoal sold as a health remedy at natural pharmacies and brought back into the world as ink for casting and rubbing.  I use the paper as a recording device that collects the information of my body through heavily pigmented ink or casein surfaces. I “abrazo” (hug) and mold the paper against me, creating creases, wrinkles, and folds.  I then slice, trace and cut along the folds, subtracting the fibers of the paper and exposing the pulp.

From the blocks of my neighborhood I gather discarded industrial materials, rubbish, cement, and broken pieces of slate; from Mexico I bring raw and sculpted pieces of obsidian sold as souvenirs. My commutes between home and the studio, between Mexico and New York, become a passage through anthropological sites.  Back in the studio I develop a corporeal relationship between myself, the collected objects, and sheets of paper that is manifested through games of chance. The objects become dice or auguries: embodiments of questions posed in the act of tossing or spitting them onto the surface: What next? What for? In which direction? Until when?  The objects land on the paper where they may and are glued to that spot; once dry I may reject the outcome and forcibly remove the objects, tearing the paper, and starting the process from scratch.

I see my performances, which take place on the street, mostly in my neighborhood, as a natural extension of my studio work.  Here I want to record an action while occupying public space with my body, and the manipulation of my visibility is especially imperative. I want to clamor for my existence and immigrant condition through personalized actions that combine the discipline of the street vendor and the act of civil disobedience.  With the mouth I mix my saliva with ingredients like burnt tortillas and activated charcoal to create a makeshift “ink” to print the street onto myself and myself onto the street. In Mexico traditional healers often use spitting as a technique for cleansing, and my oral fixation helps me to enter and exit the world - my mouth is a maker, a cursing and blessing tool.


Mónica Palma © 2018