“THE TRANSITION FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY CORRESPONDS TO THE IMAGE THAT DISAPPEARS IN THE PRINTMAKING PROCESSES (ETCHING) AND THEN REAPPEARS (PRINTED ON THE PAPER). MY WORK CALLS TO THE NEED FOR A SEARCH FOR JUSTICE AND TRUTH, WHICH BY NO MEANS IS FINITE OR TERMINAL, BUT RATHER AN INITIATIVE THAT EXISTS IN AND WITH TIME."
Born during the Chilean dictatorship and coming to age in the so-called democracy (1990s), I witnessed the regime’s atrocities and its aftermath. My work gives testimony of a present built upon the legacy of the traumatic past and rejects the modernist idea of a progressive history with a fixed past, as well as fixed media categorization as my prints and books become sculptures, installations, performance and memorials. I understand memory as a living process that mobilized itself, inviting the viewer to engage with similar shared experiences of violence in collectivity and solidarity.
Printmaking and performance has provided me with the aesthetic tools to understand this transformation of media, as well as the possibilities to explore the relationship between memory, politics, and culture. This process involves a temporality in which invisibility and visibility are at stake, just as activists in the public space demand human rights and justice. My work migrates from public space mottos and declassified documents, inviting the viewer to connect in the present made out of the contingency of the past, with the politics of reconstruction regarding structures of power.
María Verónica San Martín (1981, Santiago-Chile) is a New York-based artist who explores the impacts of history, memory, and trauma through artist books, installation, sculpture, and performance. San Martín addresses memory as a pivotal factor for the understanding of the neoliberal, globalized present, turning recently to the subject matter of the Chilean dictatorship’s violence (1973-1990), vis-à-vis the United States and Nazism’s involvement in that violence.
She received her MA in Book-Arts from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Washington D.C., was a studio artist at the Whitney Museum ISP, NYC, 2017-2018, a scholar at the Center for Book Arts, NYC, 2016-2017, an artist-in-residence at Art OMI, Ghent, NY (2016). San Martin has been awarded a NYFA grant (2021) and three National Art Funds from Chile, Fondart (2016, 2019, 2020).
She has had solo exhibitions at The Museum Meermanno, The Hague, ND, 2019; the Chilean National Archives, 2018; BRIC, Brooklyn, 2017; the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Santiago, 2013, and group exhibitions at The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 2020; The International Print Center in New York, IPCNY, 2020; The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA; Artists Space, NYC, 2018; and The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, 2016, and participated in her first Biennial in 2020, The Immigrant Artist Biennial in New York. Her work is in more than 50 collections including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Centre Pompidou, Paris.
San Martín has been performing and lecturing her “Moving Memorial” series and “Dignidad” project since 2016. She has taught at Universidad de Chile, Universidad Catolica de Chile (2015-2016)and is currently teaching the courses "How to conceptualize and create an Artist Book" and "Young Book Artists in Collaboration with Parents" at the Center for Book Arts, NYC while working for her next solo exhibition at West Chester University with Vitrina Lab Philadelphia.