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Donna Huanca opens her first solo exhibition in Scandinavia at Copenhagen Contemporary
Donna Huanca,LENGUA LLORONA (2019). Installation view at Copenhagen Contemporary. Photo: Anders Sune Berg.

COPENHAGEN.- Copenhagen Contemporary is presenting LENGUA LLORONA ; the first solo exhibition in Scandinavia of the international Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca. LENGUA LLORONA is the first performance-based commission at CC, centring on human body culture, relationship with nature, origin, and time. In a scenographic and sensory multimedia installation, Huanca has created a femininely charged universe with ritual undertones.

During the exhibition period, the installation will be activated by a series of live performances in which painted models will inhabit the space and become living paintings.

In LENGUA LLORONA , Huanca has developed a new and site-specific multimedia installation for CC comprising painting, sculpture, scent, sound, and live performance.

Huanca has created sixteen monumental oil and sand paintings and a series of painted anthropomorphic sculptures arranged as an archipelago of small islands on top of bone-white sand. The installation is enveloped in an ambient soundtrack consisting of fragmented voices, and the lingering scent of deconstructed Palo Santo originating from a holy South American tree used for ritual cleansing adds another sensory dimension to the space.

During the exhibition period, a series of eight performances will activate the exhibition. The models, as Huanca calls her performers, are decorated with paint, pigment, and textiles. Like living paintings, they inhabit the installation leaving physical traces on the walls and floor, thus creating a lasting transformation of the space. Through the models’ controlled movements and interaction with the space and the audience, a moment of intense presence emerges.

Huanca views skin as a foundation on which to create painterly surfaces and as the communicator of cultural identity. To Huanca, skin represents the definitive layer both uniting and separating us from our surroundings across time and space.

Huanca considers the performances to be central points of tension in her work where the installation is fully brought to life as a microcosmic circuit of organic relations between bodies and surroundings.

Huanca’s practice is based on an aesthetic and philosophical examination of the body’s biochemical heritage and cultural history; its organic processes, connections, and metamorphoses constitute the artist’s key interests.

In all aspects of Huanca’s work, she uses materials directly related to nature, such as raw colour pigments, oils, turmeric, sand, leather, hair, and clay. With great aesthetic accuracy, Huanca mixes all these colours, materials, textures, scents, and sounds into a visually appealing figurative language.

This enables Huanca to address all our senses at once and, from this position, to explore the underlying conventions linked to bodily behaviour. By using the body and skin as both canvas and performative tool, Huanca examines how dominating gender and body policies form our perception of identity and connectedness. With LENGUA LLORONA , she introduces a different gaze on the body, departing from direct objectification, instead directing our focus on ideas about origin, memory, biology, and time.

The title of the exhibition, LENGUA LLORONA , translates from Spanish into ’crying tongue’ and is a strongly femininely charged term. ‘Crying tongue’ may equally be reminiscent of natural waterfalls, lamentation, or a sexual act. Thus, Huanca plays with the juxtaposition of etymological meaning in linguistic terms and aesthetic metaphors, which is also reflected in the titles of the individual works.

The exhibition has been realised in collaboration with curator Aukje Lepoutre Ravn.

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