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The distance between us by Pauline Leon

for the solo exhibition at ArteActual Flacos, Ecuador, 2022

Smoke signaling is a form of communication of the native cultures of Patagonia used to transmit messages over distance. Patricia Viel takes up this gesture and emits, from the same inhospitable Patagonian landscapes, smoke signals with colored flares that contrast with the emptiness of the environment. This performative act in the context of the digital age, where both the receiver and the one who emits the signal are absent, allows the artist to locate herself in time and space, talk about distances and a state of alert or emergency. The expansion of the smoke, its orientation, its concentration or blurring are key instances of an event that questions the relationships between landscape and subject, between nature and artifice, between the possibility or impossibility of communicating.

The current exhibition The distance between us collects three key moments of a larger project called Smoke signals for other worlds, which the artist has been developing since 2017. The first moment, by way of background, consists of el_cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ poetic act that from its ephemeral materiality, questions us about our ability to communicate. Through twenty photographs exhibited here, we see smoke in warm colors that seem to want to save the loneliness and distance of the digital age, altering and reaffecting the great space we share. For their part, the pieces of black smoke, presented in an installation, correspond to the second moment crossed by the pandemic situation. The dark smoke emerges as a metaphor for communication that is forcibly interrupted and contained desires. After almost two years of confinement and four years in which smoke signals did not identify any recipient, specific recipients and sensitive responses appear, engaging in reciprocal poetic communication. We can see this third moment of exchanges and collectivization in the assembly table that accounts for the dialogues generated and records the collective chronicle that raises the need to be in communication. Thus, Patricia Viel's work persists in the gesture, as an ephemeral act that enhances the encounter.

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