Upstream Gallery proudly presents the exhibition Flowers by Cristóbal León (Santiago, Chile, 1980) and Joaquín Cociña (Concepción, Chile, 1980). The latest video of León and Cociña, titled ‘Los Andes’ (2013), will premiere at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, where it is selected to be presented at the Latin-American Pavilion. From the 8th of June ‘Los Andes’ can be seen at Upstream Gallery.
In ‘Los Andes’, a restless primal spirit takes possession of a worn-out office room. The contrast between the stuffy office and the epiphany is striking: drawings appear on the walls, plant-like forms sprout from the computer and overgrow the desktop. As it finds its way through the office space, the mysterious entity transforms into the limbs of a giant and dissolves again. Meanwhile, a mesmerizing Spanish voice lisps prophecies about ancient spirits and the beginning of a new era. In tape, paint, plastic foil and papier mâché the foundations of a new religion arise from ancient myths.
Alongside ‘Los Andes’, León and Cociña will present a one-off installation of a work in progress: their first full length film ‘La Casa Lobo’. The artists are right in the middle of making this film and by presenting it as a work in progress they offer a unique insight into their artistic working process. A part of the film will be shot at Upstream Gallery itself where the duo will create a set, which together with the remaining objects will be part of the installation. It is the first time that parts of the unfinished film are exhibited.
With their experimental films, Leon and Cociña create a new interpretation of the religious symbolism and magical rituals that are deeply rooted in the traditional culture of Latin America. The narrative plays a key role. The surrealistic, esoteric films of Chilean underground filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky but also the aesthetics of children’s fairy tales are sources of inspiration for the duo. For the production of their films they combine different techniques such as photography, drawing, sculpture, dance and performance. A distinctive, unpolished cinematographic language characterizes the stop-motion films of León and Cociña. The papier mâché figures and innocent-looking drawings strongly contrast with the heavy topics such as religion, sex and death the films deal with. Influenced by psychoanalytic theory, the artists seem to tap from a nightmarish collective subconscious. Their artistic world is populated by sinister shadows and creatures that are constantly subject to metamorphosis, and seem to come straight from a hallucination or a fever dream. Yet the atmosphere can shift quickly and the ominous creatures dissolve as quickly as they appeared.
Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña have been working together since 2007. They were educated at the Universidad Católica, Santiago de Chile. León also studied at the UdK in Berlin (2009) and de Ateliers, Amsterdam (2011). León and Cociña won several awards and their films are selected regularly for international film festivals. Their work is frequently exhibited in Latin America and at international institutions, such as Whitechapel Gallery London, the Guggenheim New York and KW Berlin. In 2012 Upstream Gallery presented their work at Art Basel Statements. This summer the work will be on show at the Venice Biennale.