in conversation with Rebeca Romero
“Don't you think there are currently many things to be angry about?”
How did you first get interested in art and begin making works?
“I deal a lot with issues concerning the female experience, the challenges of migration, the colonial wound, mental health and human relationships”
I have always liked to make stuff when I was a child I used to give a second life to objects found around the house; they became some sort of very low-fi-purposeless-failed-robotics. My objects would make the daily actions more interesting, unnecessarily complex, and also more fun. I have never been so much into drawing but objects, recording sound and photography is what I love to work with. I studied media in Peru, went to art school in Barcelona, and then studied graphic design in London, I am currently doing an MFA in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths University. Does it sound like a very straightforward artist path? It was definitely not. Moving between cities and countries make it hard to keep a balance and that involved many periods in between when I wasn't 'producing' as I wished. It has been a constant reiteration of a choice, I guess it is part of my personality as I am constantly asking myself questions, reimagining, and exploring.
Your works are addressing issues such as mental health, the female body, and uncomfortable situations. Can you talk about this choice and how are you approaching and thinking about the process?
As you said, I deal a lot with issues concerning the female experience, the challenges of migration, the colonial wound, mental health and human relationships within this topic. I believe in the ability to embrace vulnerability and transform it into power. Stand in an uncomfortable position it is a hard and scary effort, but worth it. This is a very pure and honest place where to stand that at the same time holds a strength with it. I try to connect into this every time I approach a new work. I work into open conversations that I believe are urgent; I put my work forward, my body or my experience.
How does autobiography enter into your work?
Many of my projects start for me, from anger. I know it sounds harsh but, is a human emotion and I have decided not to judge it. Don't you think there are currently many things to be angry about? I have also invested a lot of time working on my self-awareness, so it has been a conscious choice in the recent years to try to transform this anger into something else, something engaging, perhaps useful, that ideally serves as space of reflection. My work comes mostly from a space of reaction and a sense of urgency.
What are you working on right now? I know you have been working on sculpture and other media, how do you choose the media to work on?
At the moment I'm working on an installation that involves also sound and video. In the making, the idea chooses the material, always. However, the material comes during the creative process. The creative process becomes a sort of dance, a game... I have all these pieces and I play, watch, listen, and let them be until everything falls into place. I like to embrace the freedom of work interdisciplinary, where nothing is precluded. I think is a good place to be, very playful, I am having a great time.
Your latest work exposes the humanitarian and ecological impacts of globalisation and its concomitant links to the waves of colonialism and migration. What do you want to say with this work?
My work 'The Snake Bites Its Own Tail' is a criticism of the commodification of 'the exotic' spirituality and the use of indigenous medicine. I played around the idea of mistranslation and assumption; the question "WHAT IF" played an important role. I encourage the viewer to dive into a personal conversation-conflict, to be in control and to reclaim, reimagine the narrative and the power structure. I am focusing on the 'miscommunication' between Western and Indigenous people, the pieces are built from the absurd. I redeploy a different language using humour. Humour is such a vitally important aspect of everyday life, that makes us smile underlying darker truths. I like to quote Sruti Bala, Veronika Zangl in 'Humour In Art and Activism', "from the 'victim’s' perspective, humour provides a weapon of maintaining dignity and selfhood under extremely violent and brutal conditions", so that's space where I'm attempting to move toward.
“I believe in the ability to embrace vulnerability and transform it into power”
What is the next project you will work on?
I made a lot of interesting discoveries while developing my latest work, on boundaries, entitlement and conflict resolution related to 'the exotic' topic. These are ideas that are all the time in my head right now, I will explore and see where they will take me.
Why do you think art is important and what does it mean for you?
I believe a space for discussion is necessary. Taking the time to observe, reflect and react, appreciate beauty, recognise danger, feel fear, feel anger, feel home, reclaim power, and celebrate, art serves for all these purposes to me. My work aims to be a reflection of my experience, my concerns, my beliefs and also my flaws, to me, it's about being honest. This whole exercise gives my life a sense of purpose, how could I possibly not do it?!
Rebeca Romero is a Peruvian interdisciplinary artist based in London. She studied media in Peru Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, went to art school in Barcelona Escola Massana Centre d'Art i Disseny and then studied graphic design in London Shillington College, she is currently doing an MFA in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths University. She worked at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin and exhibited at STOMACH in London. She uses a variety of media, video, installation, photography and performance to create her work focused on identity, the female experience, the challenges of migration, the colonial wound, mental health and human relationships within this space.