Painting & Ants: Victoria Baraga


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I just moved, and my new apartment is infested with Argentine ants. I bought some bait that, according to some guy on Amazon, is like a ‘kegger for bugs.’

I really started to question my moral standing because I was a little too into watching them swarm and travel back to their nest, poison in tow. Victoria Baraga, consequently also a native to Argentina, spent many hours of her childhood observing ants. She says, ‘I invented a structure with Tupperware and water that allowed me to observe them without allowing them to escape.  I would carry a journal with me, and I would update with each day’s analysis.’ Twenty years later, she has the same sense of curiosity: observing, experimenting and examining how things function.

 

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After a short period studying veterinary biology, Baraga found herself drawn toward music and painting. She enjoys the lack of structure or objective she is able to allow herself in creating her work, equating the process to the games she would create as a kid. She loves to ‘disarm things, strip them of their natural function and create something new.’ The process of creating her work and experimenting with different objects and materials is, for Baraga, more crucial than the final product itself. ‘In the case of painting, I enjoy discovering how different objects create different textures.  Many are found on the street or are household objects. Almost like a ritual, I am constantly trying out new objects’, she says.

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People often mistake her paintings for microscopic photographs or digital collage. Others like to try to explain what they feel or see, like a Rorschach test without the pressure. This way, their perceptions become part of the work itself. While working, Baraga is sculpting her paint. She explains, ‘I start with a splotch of paint that I slowly begin to move around and sculpt.  I never know exactly what is going to happen.’  She uses the same sequence for creating music. Across the board, her work starts from a place of uncertainty and is slowly formed over space and time. It is passing through diverse landscapes and textures until she feels it is complete. She explains, ‘It’s a constant exploration. Both languages provide feedback to one another, the sounds are created into textures and the textures into sounds, and they are constantly in motion, almost like ants.’

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