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Beatriz Olabarrieta inquires into the multifaceted nature of identity
Beatriz Olabarrieta, Noise. Courtesy of the artist.

BARCELONA.- In her work, Beatriz Olabarrieta (Bilbao, 1979) explores the limits of language and places the focus on the dysfunctional behaviour of communication: messages that don’t find a recipient, voices that don’t correspond to a narrative, or written words that belong to no language at all. For Marc Navarro, the curator of the Turn It All Turns series, in Olabarrieta’s work “the urge to say clashes with the impossibility of information being efficiently conveyed, so that language gives way to the unpredictable.”

Faced with this instability of language and in a scenario in which communication becomes an act of permanent negotiation, Beatriz Olabarrieta seeks refuge in the notion of translation. This concept has a central role in her most recent projects, which address the way in which we constantly reformulate our narrative to allow for communication, reconciliation and understanding.

For this year’s Espai 13, Olabarrieta presents Faces, a project that examines the multifaceted nature of realities, identities and languages. According to Navarro, “the face has become the access interface to an identity we’re constantly reconfiguring, a shell we edit at our convenience to show ourselves in public or to dilute ourselves.” In Olabarrieta's project for Turn It All Turns, speech and writing are two defining elements of our identity, just as the multiple versions of our external appearance determine our acts of communication.

Following this idea, Olabarrieta uses the exhibition space to display a variety of graphic, acoustic and text documents related to the faces, planes and versions that play with the solidity of objects, identities and biographies. These false leads are distributed throughout a labyrinthine architectural installation that divides the Espai 13 space like “a trap or a riddle”, to quote the artist. It is a construction without an interior or an exterior, with no clearly defined sides, which cuts off the expected circulation within the space, as well as the view of the bodies walking through it – a physical experience of uncertainty that leads visitors towards other instances of defamiliarization: regarding their own identity and consistency. According to the project’s curator Marc Navarro, it is “a deterritorialization that forces us to imagine ways of relating to our surroundings and making ourselves present above and beyond the biographical narrative and the dictates of the intelligible.”

Beatriz Olabarrieta (Bilbao, 1979) graduated in philosophy from the University of Deusto (Bilbao), in sculpture from the Wimbledon School of Art (London), and received a Master’s Degree in sculpture from the Royal College of Art (London). She lives and works in London.

Some of her recent exhibitions are Ask the Dust, MCASB, Santa Barbara (201819), Stay Twice, Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld, 2019) Meeting With a Double Agent , Syntax (Lisbon, 2017), The Only Way Out Is In, The Sunday Painter (London, 2017) and Book! Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Parallel Oaxaca (Mexico City, 2017). She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions at Serpentine Galleries (2016), Mot International (2015) and Lisson Gallery (2015), among other venues. Olabarrieta has been an artist in residence at the Museo Experimental El Eco (Mexico City, 2014) and the Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris, 2006).

The exhibition is on view at Fundació Joan Miró through March 22, 2010.

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