Conversation with Pilar Albarracìn
« El Origen del Nuevo Mundo» has two significations, two underlining connections. One with a very famous painting from Courbet, and the second with space : cosmogony, the new world, the big bang...
Both are very connected to the show, with the idea of the show. They form the principal structure of my thoughts. There is another small satellite surrounding the idea, which is to give a global vision of how the world is changing now.
One of the very important parts of this project is the process and the reactions of the people involved. Especially the reactions of women because it was from them that I collected the underwear. As a result of the reactions created when I asked women to give me their used underwear, I felt as though I was penetrating the cultural taboos of today.
One of the most important parts of the project, was the collecting of the underwear ; they are clean but used. It is the most intimate item you have as a woman.
I think so, after the first reactions I became really fascinated with the idea. Underwear is ‘the door’ to a woman's intimate area. You ask people to give something that really means nothing. People go to the beach in bikini’s and think nothing of it, but if you ask them for their underwear they will tell you ‘no it is too private !’. It’s like you are asking for some special part of their body.It’s like an extension of their private life, nobody knows what it consists of. People use underwear to create a “persona”. You have different types of underwear if you want to be sexy, to be kind, to be masculine. For these reasons it was incredible to see all the different sizes, models and prints.
There is a very important form which is seen in the show : the mandala. Couldn't you have just sewn the underwear onto fabric and hung them on the wall ?
The principal idea was to combine mandalas with feminin underwear. To take a very popular, very traditional object, and give it a new signification. It’s not just one type of underwear, it’s all kinds of underwear from different women of different ages, different sizes and from different social classes put together, in a cosmogony. It is a circle within a circle, with a space in the middle. This hole, for me, represents the connection with the cosmos. Another idea is the vagina that contains the beginning of life. Everything is related to the cosmos. I believe in the energy of a community, of a group.
Do you think that the video enabled you to have a distinct connection with other women you worked with ?
It was very difficult to convince people to lift their skirts or dresses to film footage of their genital area with undewear. It is a very stange thing, a little piece of fabric, how the camera zooms in on this part. It’s very powerful and very disturbing, the viewer is not comfortable with the raw image. People want to listen, but they can’t because the voices of the women in the video is changed to a man's voice. It makes you feel uncomfortable.
It's the same sensation that happens when you are talking with somebody and you realise that they are staring at your body.
All of your drawings in the show have little doors. Is there a specific reason for doing two sets of them?
The drawings of underwear are simple. They are from the idea that different kinds of underwear represent different kinds of women. I used ball point pen and basic colours. I didn’t need anything complicated to add to the original idea. Opening the doors and windows give us the possibility to see inside, « to see inside the cosmos ». I wanted to create a romantic vision. The other series of drawings is more about the representation of women in history of art. It’s like a memory of Lacan’s history of the « Origin of the World » and how his theory was reflected in the work. I decided to make erotic drawings for people to discover whats lies behind the appearence. They have to look into the little windows, but they cant see its entirety. I’m putting forward the question of how we think about the eroticism. Is it the evidence that leads us to a conclusion or things that we invent in our minds.
Each new work represents a new reflection. Sometimes I use the same question twice because I have not yet properly answered it and I have gained more experience.