Collage, paper and acrylic paint
18 cm x 27 cm
There is something metaphysical to the act of co-inhabiting a space. Through accumulated collective experiences, the recurrent encounter with oneself and others, and the inherent cumplicity brought by sharing, a one single organism is generated that is built of and trascends all: also known as family. The Nº32 is where I have shared a living for the most of my life. In a ritualistic approach to the act of making that explored the collective moment of being and doing together, I materialized in this collage series the complexities of one’s family home. Paired with personal narratives, these compositions speak of how the identity and feeling of a home lives in our subconciousness and exists in the most trivial details.
In the house N°32, the 31st of December 2020 was spent with family. Plastic bags covered the dinner table among arguments about who gets the best pair of sissors. And a Matisse-inspired cutout workshop was playing on a laptop. My sister Marta, romantic by nature, illustrated a scene of two lovers in a field of flowers. My ever-so-critical sister Sara couldn't decide on a composition, so ended up doing nothing at all. Mom did a patchwork of senseless color combinations to avoid leftover paint to go to waste. And I, accidentally (or intuitively), made the first three pieces of what came out to be a series about the n°32.
The N°32 is, in appearance, little more than a pale yellow house with a garden. We all have places of refuge, I suppose one's house is the most commonly found. The swedish have an expression called "hemmablind", literally meaning "home blindness". It speaks of a syndrome that allows one to stop noticing details and particularities about their personal spaces (like a floor tile that is broken, or a scratch on the dining table). At home we feel safe. And with the abcense of threat, our level of alertness stands at a minimum. Not paying attention to what is around is a luxury one can afford at home.
My sister Marta says everything weights less on the couch. I am still not sure whether that is due to some sort of metaphysical quality that absorbs anger and transforms it into inertia, or for being the core — the heart — of the N°32. A place through which all energies flow, a place where we may pause and rest assured that the rest of the machine keeps on working. Perhaps both.
N°32 is made of extremely competitive people. However messed up it may or may not be, our favorite weekend activity seems to consist of slaughtering one another on the battlefield of whichever boardgame we are obsessing over at the moment. Screaming and whining have normalized into regular evening conversations over the laid-out table. And colorful playing pieces have accumulated under the rug, as memories from forcefully unfinished games thrown down either by a dog's tail or a bad looser. Yet beauty lies within the ease with which we move from aggressively yelling at each other to sweetly cuddling on the couch.
My parents first moved into the N°32 when mom was pregnant with me. From the beginning, it symbolized completeness. Spacial, individual, and relational. The ultimate point of stability following years of change. Three sturdy storeys full of timelessness. Where the lived second transmutates through time, and dates dissolve into a single endless moment. Whether it's 1995, 2003 or 2021, time feels the same within the halls of the N°32.
There seems to be an undeniable human need to classify, categorize. N°32's inhabitants are no different. Growing up, most of our favorite games implied defining which fruit each of us resembles the most, or which animal. One would imagine this sort of play would fade in time but age turned out to only highlight the necessity to characterize each other through metaphor. As adults, our conversations are still fundamentally the same. One is called the customer support line, the other a seal of approval, another is defined to be “Google”. It may seem like a rather reductive game, but in truth, it feels oddly comforting to hear another make somehow sense of our whole existence in such a simple manner.
At it's best (or worst), the N°32 accomplished to concurrently hold 6 dogs, 1 cat, 1 hamster, 3 fishes, and 2 parakeets. Although it was children paradise, for one was never without company or entertainment, it must have also certainly been aldult nightmare. For every door open, a herd of beings bursting through at maximum speed. For every whine calling out for attention, a bark, a meow, or a squeak. For every accident, a dozen more. Why two fully grown adults would ever subject themselves to such situation? I don't have it so clear either. Could it have been for their generous nature towards the children crying out for more pets? Surely. Or perhaps due to some childhood trauma? Probably as well.
Grandpa never allowed animals inside the house. In his eyes, dogs were meant to guard the house or the sheep, whereas cats should be wild, mere mouse hunters. Born with a highly sensitive love for animals, mom never succumbed to such rules. By sneaking out in the middle of the night to cuddle with the cows or spending the day inside the chicken's coop, she found pets wherever she could. Perhaps our personal zoo was her secret paradise as well.