Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Fine Arts
Competition: Latin America & Caribbean
Artist Angela Ramírez Sanz lives and works in Santiago, Chile. Educated at the University of Chile (Licenciatura in Fine Arts, 1993) and at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Certificate, 1996), where she studied with Hubert Kiecol and Beate Schiff, Ms. Ramírez creates ephemeral installations, usually with a pointedly critical statement about the current political and cultural state of the city, and of Chile.
With the support of FONDART, Chile’s national art fund, Ms. Ramírez has created in Santiago over the course of about a decade numerous works calling attention to the dichotomy between the people and the city’s institutions, as represented in the civic architecture, that are supposed to work for the citizenry and affirm and secure their human rights. Among these are Arbotantes (1998), at the Barros Luco Hospital; Penas (1999), at the women’s jail; Cuestión de tiempo (2004), at the 20th Contemporary Music Festival held at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; and, with additional support from a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, Narciso (2006), at the central hall of the Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes. Another work, sine qua non (2005), which had been selected by the National Commission for permanent installation at the Law Center of Santiago, was censored by the Chilean judiciary. Ms. Ramírez’ civil case fighting that decision is currently underway. Narciso is her artistic response to the censorship of sine qua non.
Currently, Ms. Ramírez seeks to explore in the wish place, her Guggenheim Fellowship project, the contradiction between the intentions of the post-Pinochet government to bring housing and culture to the poorest parts of Santiago and Chile, and the sorely inadequate results: newly built cultural centers that have no funds to hire staff or acquire art collections, and so remain empty; and the government-built houses for the poor so small (barely 30 by 15 feet) that the tenants are forced to jerry-rig illegal extensions in order to have room for their families. With great effort and determination a group of women social activists has constructed a two-floor community center in La Pintana, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Santiago, but they dream of a expanding the center. For the wish place, Ms. Ramírez will construct a third floor for the center, so the architecture and her art are one in the same, and both equally reflective of the reality of the neighborhood: like the cultural centers that remain cultureless and the houses that are inadequate homes, her installation will be inaccessible, with the stairways and doors to the newly built space blocked off. After the exhibition period for the piece, she will open up the space and turn it over to the community center for its use.
The works that I have been doing during the last ten years in Santiago, Chile, reach in a crucial way different areas like architecture, visual arts, politics, and urban and social spaces, considering as a basis for my research the problematic context in which these areas intersect in our cities and society.
My art works emphasize these difficulties and are my critical, emotional, and political responses to them.
I use the several overlapping realities to show that the apparent stability and identity of the symbolic strategies of political and economical power in the city are relative. So, through my artistic explorations of the discrepancies between the intentions of government programs and their insufficient and often warped realization, I make evident the fractures and inconsistencies. My art is a kind of fun-house mirror held up to reflect the establishment, a kind of distorted echo of the power language.
In fact, although Chile is a democratic nation, my work sine qua non was censured by the Chilean judiciary in 2005.
I have carried out public interventions at the jail, National Fine Arts Museum, Barros Luco Hospital, Electoral Service Building, in public streets, at the Art and Culture National Council, and at the Law Center of Santiago, among venues. Nowadays I am working on a project at La Pintana Community Center in Santiago.