Article by Christopher Dzierzawa
Guadalupe Martinez is an artist.
But this is already the end, and as always we must start in the middle. Looking there, is it not the case that the fulcrum of that statement which imputes Ms. Martinez’s existence is off centre? Are there not too many syllables, too many consonants, on one side? “Guadalupe Martinez” is too heavy for such a statement to balance.
And so it is with such an imbalance in mind that this collection of portraits must be approached. As the verb in our original proposition sets the subject and predicate off balance, so too does the space between Ms. Martinez’s portraits and our experience of them imbalance a relationship between Self and Other. These pieces are not Self-portraits, but rather Other-portraits; we do not experience Ms. Martinez as she is, but rather her experience of our experience of her. In this way, it is as if that intimate experience of standing in front of the mirror in one’s bathroom is given its full import and reversed. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing an image of ourselves mediated by the Other, we are confronted with an image of Ms. Martinez as it has been premeditated by us, her Other. And it is only in such an experience that “Guadalupe Martinez” is reduced, semantically, phonetically, existentially, to a weight where it can find a point of balance with “an artist’’.
This search for an identity, intimately tied to place and name, is central to Ms. Martinez’s work. The wolves throughout this space reenact such a search, and it is as if once again we have been complicated in that process. We are both an obstacle in this search and yet necessary for an understanding of its object. The wolf is above all else a symbol of territoriality and we by our presence both condition that territory and trespass upon it. This lost object, the identity of Ms. Martinez, situates the work as predator and the viewer as prey; but prey only in as much as we dare to understand the boundaries of that territory each wolf seeks to protect.
And so what remains in the silence is the beginning.