|Disappearing, leaving a trace, tracking and concatenating stories to construct a narrative, sometimes vital … None of these concepts is alien to Lúa Coderch’s practice, a way of working that is anchored in reality and in memory and is remarkable for its rigour, precision and depth and for being subtly playful and subversive.|
Dérives and narrative are essential aspects of her work. The concatenation of ideas, facts, anecdotes and situations configure non-hierarchical hypertexts and itineraries like dérives, in the course of which the story is constructed. This is the case with the video Oro (2014), a narrative based on highly diverse references and visual material, about how courage and charisma are generated and the relation of these to distance, opacity and appearance.
Coderch’s practice also frequently resorts to the first-person account, as is the case in Night in a Remote Cabin Lit by a Kerosene Lamp (2015), a short video correspondence between two people, the leitmotif of which is the building of shelters in nature, although the precariousness of the structures makes them the starting point for thinking about our ways of living in and relating to the world.
Nature and its exploration and, let’s say, its deconstruction / reconstruction appear again, first in Or, Life in the Woods (2012-2014) and, more recently, in Treball de Camp (2015), a sound piece produced by Cal Cego for which the artist roamed through fields of olive trees and the stretches of humble woodland surrounding them in the Penedès region, recording the sounds that construct the idea of landscape. Thus, the artist selects sounds she feels capable of singing a posteriori, such as those of birds, bees or the wind, while excluding others such as those of cars or airplanes, an approach that makes this an exercise in aural landscaping not very different from that of a landscapist using the medium of drawing. At this point we might find ourselves making connections with the draughtsman in the Peter Greenaway film The Draughtsman’s Contract, who was similarly commissioned to draw an everyday domesticated landscape, but there the similarities with Lúa Coderch end, because, unlike Mr Neville, she does not have to deal with plots or intrigues. On the contrary, once the sound recording is completed the artist submits it to a time-consuming and purely technical process that is far from spectacular. For this reason she prefers to let it go unnoticed and proceeds to separate out the sounds one by one, slowing them down or speeding them up to fit them to the register of the human voice and then memorizing them, vocalizing small fragments of sound, recording these and returning them to their original speed and then replacing each of the natural sounds with the corresponding, let’s say, sung version. In short, she subjects herself to a laborious and painstaking process in order to produce an absolutely constructed soundscape, which effectively and credibly takes the place of the natural aural landscape.
At the beginning of the text we spoke of a subversive and playful way of working. Both aspects are manifestly present in Treball de Camp, but always inflected by the adverb ‘subtly’. The subtlety is what makes it far from obvious that the sounds we hear are not natural. Listening to the piece tends to produce moments of irritation: we have the sensation that something isn’t quite right, that some things are too composed or too orchestrated. This feeling of irritation or suspicion is precisely what focuses our attention and feel the need to investigate, to find out exactly what causes the sense of strangeness, to try to comprehend and discover the construction of the mechanism in order to think and ask questions, once again, about ourselves and the landscape, which is the same as saying, about our relationship with the world.