Guadalupe Martinez wastes no time.
Since moving to Canada five years ago from her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Guadalupe’s name has popped up on my radar near continuously: she seems to add local artist-run centres and galleries to her long resume with the ease of a well-seasoned pro. This isn’t just because of her art practice: Guadalupe is also involved in arts programming in Vancouver, currently sitting on the board for LIVE International Performance Art Biennale—all while working through her MFA at UBC.
Guadalupe’s list of accolades and projects is impressive for the sheer drive it demonstrates—a drive that is surprisingly nurtured by the calmness of Vancouver.
“Vancouver is a small and mellow city,” she explains. “I find it is easy to make work here in terms of materials and resources. I don’t stress much here and that helps to find a good mind space to make work.”
Vancouver directly informs the type of work Guadalupe currently explores, too. Back in Argentina, Guadalupe produced large textile installations that dealt with more autobiographical matter; now, her work has shifted dramatically to reflect her current environment. “Since moving here, I became a lot more interested in the relationship to space, landscape, and materials,” she tells me. “Conceptually and theoretically, I am interested in the relationship between sculpture and performance as well as the relationship between studio practice and public space.”
Guadalupe doesn’t need to explain, though: her work speaks for itself to convey her fascination with the building blocks of our immediate surroundings as well as her conceptual and theoretical interests. Her preferred materials to work with – found objects and construction materials such as concrete and wood – distinctly embody BC’s natural landscape, Vancouver’s relationship with real estate and other familiar aspects of living in Vancouver you’d stumble upon in your day to day. Interestingly enough, Guadalupe frames those objects and materials in the context of the body. “I don’t see materials existing without the body, at least not in my work,” she explains. For example, a recent installation at The Commons Gallery was composed of cinder blocks stacked confidently – almost aggressively – on top of each other, stifling the lively motions of a proud gold flag in-between the layers of cinder. “I try to make my installations operate so that when one moves around them, one has to become aware of the space/context,” Guadalupe explains. In this case, I couldn’t help but move around her sculpture: the tension of the harsh blocks straining this graceful material with so much potential for vivacity kept me circling the piece, wondering whether the top of the flag Guadalupe let rise above the blocks signified freedom from tension or helpless struggle against it.
“I still feel that my work is strongly connected to my Argentine background, but I can see that living here and becoming part of the community has affected my mode of production and my work,” Guadalupe explains further. “I think that as artists we are constantly influenced and even determined by our community and context. We are inspired, we borrow, we steal, we share… with and from peers and the environment.”
So what’s next for Guadalupe? She currently has a piece in a group show at Satellite Gallery. In the near future, she’ll be showing at Back Gallery Project with a group of Latin American artists. Apart from showing her work, Guadalupe is also starting a nomad project space with a classmate called “Down on the Corner,” with the first cycle of artists showing at Gene Cafe. Clearly, Guadalupe isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon: as we watch her grow as an artist, it’s only a matter of time until she frees that gold flag from the cinder blocks.
By Polina Bachlakova. Presented by The Cheaper Show. The Cheaper Show is an annual art show committed to showcasing affordable art by emerging artists.Art, BC, British Columbia