JUSTICE AND BEAUTY
Marshall Weber, Directing Curator of Booklyn
If you take a step back from Maria Veronica San Martin’s prints and artists’ books you will be engaged by the fact that the story San Martin is telling seems to grow larger as you move away from the images. So you linger and sway back and forth because the images also frequently resolve in various ways within different focal lengths. It’s as if she is using the material and process of book and print making to fluctuate time and illuminate narratives.
Her books fold and wave and explode outward at you with the force of the history they encapsulate.
San Martin is building a large body of artists’ books, installations, and prints that focus on contemporary 20th century Chile. She is a courageous scholar, and her research, motivations and intentions have integrity and coherence. Her work is important for Chile as a nation, and is a crucial part of the current Western Hemisphere’s (re)imagining/constructing of a post-post-colonial Zapatismo.
At this time San Martin’s work is first and foremost about recording and re-presenting historical testimony in an affective and aesthetic way. These aggregate testimonies honor their sources by building a visionary song which demands the resolution of great injustice and the recovery from deep trauma.
The hybrid structures, multi-media, and layered historical texts, suggest both digital random access onions and the symbolic complexities of Goya. The force of her subject matter, and the aesthetic vehicle it rides in on, give her work a solemn exuberance.
Like the mountains, San Martin’s artworks surround you, immersing you in many difficult stories. So then her work is ultimately about beauty, the beauty of justice as the only antidote to injustice. Harmony in the aesthetic and social realms seems similar, familiar.
So in intimate encounters with art, with a book, alone in an installation, we experience the necessity of testimony. We listen with open hearts disarmed by the artwork. We remake our history with the testimony; the testimony can change both the past and the future. It is a gardening tool. San Martin’s work feels like what great passionate art should be, in part and at times - a gardening tool for the soul.