Studio Visit with Ana Teresa Fernandez
Ana Teresa Fernández
“Myintention is to challenge old ways of seeing things... In the attempt to do these actions one can witness the beauty, the failure, the struggle, the impossibility or possibility, offering a new context, a new way of hopefully seeing something old with fresh eyes again.”
Magic realism— about halfway through our studio visit, Ana let that pair of contrary words fall out of her mouth. She had been talking about various inspirations, and mentioned that Latin American writers within this literary genre have been influential to her work. She said,really“Ifindwantheto magic in reality.” Beyond that statement she didn’t spend too much time explaining, but she words immediately reverberated Magic realism is often characterized by a matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastical elements that reach far beyond the limits of reality. This equal acceptance of the ordinary and extraordinary is noticeably present in Ana’s -work,based which inc projects, sculpture, performance, video, and painting. Much of Ana’s practi playing with expectations and yanking familiar symbols out of context to dramatic effect.
In this way there is a dream-like, or magical, quality to her work; it provokes feelings of the uncanny— that unnerving breakdown of familiarity in which something is at once known and unknown. Her work grapples with borders and looks to erase or at least re-draw them, and her performance-based work questions and re-imagines all the geographic, physical, psychological, and emotional delineations we have accepted in society. Ana’s paintings are prompted by her video work; based on a specific moment from a performance, documenting and extending acts that often force the viewer to encounter women as more than just a series of stereotypes.
When we visited Ana’s studio, she-scalehadpaintingsseveralonthewalllarge.Onein particular caught my attention. It depicted a pair of bare legs, high-heeled and elegant,
straddling a horse’sodysubmerged.Thehorse’sb legs churned at the wat the agitated muscles bulging, as the woman’s legs tensely he filmed this video in the jungles of Mexico while wearing a dress and stilettos, riding a white stallion in a sinkhole where virgin girls were once drowned as sacrifices to the gods. Ana’s painting, reproducing a moment from video docume magical happening and yet it was real; that moment had actually occurred. Her performance and painting had not only subverted my expectation of femininity, it had also written over history by creating a different narrative around that sinkhole, a new mythology, and a more complicated convergence of what is real and unreal.