• ArtistSandra Gamarra
  • TitleVitrina III (Autóctono / Nativo / Primitivo / Aborigen)
  • Year of Origin2018
  • GenreInstallation
  • Erwerbungsjahr
  • Erwerbung der StiftungYes

Sandra Gamarra, Vitrina III (Autóctono / Nativo / Primitivo / Aborigen), 2018

The works in the series The Museum of Ostracism (2018) mimic the exhibition logic of a European museum of anthropology, displaying anthropomorphic ceramics from the Inca and pre-Inca periods that seem to float mysteriously in the air. The artifacts, neatly lined up and presented behind glass, come from various Spanish museums, into whose collections they have arrived in the form of donations, but also as looted goods. Walking around the display cases, one is surprised to discover that the objects are actually two-dimensional trompe l’Œil paintings. The back of each painting is inscribed with words used to derogatorily describe the indigenous peoples of South America. They form a genealogy of prejudice stretching from the Spanish conquest to the present.
Five somber, atmospheric paintings are shown in dialogue with the installation. These recent works from the ongoing series Cryptomnesia (or in some museums the sun never shines), in existence since 2015, represent the convention of “scientific” exhibitions of non-Western objects in European anthropological museums.

Gamarra Heshiki deliberately uses light and shadow, which results in her paintings being characterized by a hermetic mood – rare objects that are preserved but kept in the dark. In an antagonistic gesture, the artist breaks the silence of these museum-like views with the violence that surrounds us: in the corners of each painting are miniature scenes from press photographs depicting arrests by police, detention centers, human trafficking, conflicts over natural resources, and other current events that point to the relationship between the Global North and the Global South. With this compositional approach, which draws on the unrelenting European impulse to objectify and classify others, she adds a new dimension to the notion of “cryptomnesia” – a memory disorder that causes a person to repeat an action while thinking they are doing something for the first time. In this constellation of works, Sandra Gamarra Heshiki illustrates how strongly asymmetrical power relations in the realm of culture and knowledge reflect the geopolitics of a world still shaped by the colonial matrix.

Florencia Portocarrero – Berlin Biennale 2011