The landscape of Magdalena Fernández’s work immerses the viewer into the very essence of artistic experience in search for the ultimate end of nature. A sonorous, visual experience resonates through the virtual window of her installations, video-installations, mobile-paintings, and site-specific works, to evoke an echo that reverberates from the latent potency of nature. Recalling the artistic and literary allegory of Echo and Narcissus, as narrated by the poet Ovid in The Metamorphoses, Fernández’s exhibition suggests a new mode of configuring nature which resonates with synthesis, signs, and the rhythm of an endless repetition. As we trace the artistic and literal journeys of Echo into the contemporary era, this figure seems to find a new voice in Magdalena Fernández’s practice, speaking the last word of an artistic language whose style finds its premises in abstract painting and formalism. The echo of Fernández’s work returns an artistic experience through the mirroring of nature and the marking of a feminine sign: just as the figure of Echo speaks from the background of a natural setting, so Magdalena Fernández’s practice resounds from an immersive landscape to interrogate the entangled relation between humans and nature. In so doing, Fernández's work makes room and gives voice to the unrepresented aspects of nature, which resound with a language of sonorous, heterogeneous experiences, reminding us of an ethics of belonging.
The artist’s practice is characterized by a meticulous method of investigation that creates a bridge between nature, its inherent laws and the purity of ideal, abstract and rational forms. At the basis of her practice is an ethical approach that supersedes rationalism to reconnect the human with the natural world through an audio-visual resonance that does not claim to be a language, but the echo of an experience returning from sedimentations, repositions, geometries, and configurations. Magdalena Fernández's practice displaces the function of rational form within natural necessity and enables the disclosure of a different order of composition emerging from a radical experience. The reinvention of an artistic, ethical language calls for a collective experience to suggest modes of belonging and being true to nature. The inaugural diptych, 1pm SO11 (2011) and 1pmSO15 (2015), is an eloquent example of how Magdalena Fernández's poetics reflects the unity of a conscious experience through visual and sonorous elements. Never self-referential, the mirroring of Fernández’s work extends towards ‘the Other’ through an endless chain of structures, rhythms, and abstract signs.
Nature: Substrate of the structure and the image
The atmosphere that pervades Magdalena Fernández’s installations is rooted in a virtual landscape. Through the voice of Echo, the artist suggests a new syntax that reconfigures nature by exploring the affirmative aspects of re-enactments, repetitions and engendering practices. Her work is characterized by a chiasmus that intertwines reminiscences of form with the awakening of a natural order, displacing the transcendental movement of rational thinking within a radical, grounded approach. The video-installation 2IPM009 (2009) is emblematic in this regard, as the work presents an abstract configuration of grids, points, lines and rhythmic sequences, resounding of rain and water dripping on surfaces. Whilst citing the elemental composition of pure elements as derived from abstract painting, Magdalena Fernández's landscape is rooted in an immersive experience that unfolds within the sensible realm to reveal a new structural order at the basis of her artistic composition. At the core of the artist’s poetics, Fernández revisits the classical notion of physis in relation to arts, technologies and new media. As the artist suggests, the epiphany of this event, the unbreaking of form into structures and signs, implies a way of understanding nature that involves motion, temporality, the virtual and an ethical responsibility for the constructed environment. Beyond appearances, the artist unfolds the play of nature to reveal the emergence of rhythm, dynamis, fluxes, and resonances as suggested by the choice of reconfiguring vibrant elements such as water, light and sound through an abstract register. The immersive pictorial fields of 2Ipm009 (2009) are marked by the chiasmus of vertical and horizontal lines to reveal a new order of geometrical composition that is drawn from the disclosure of nature and the reverberation of signs onto surfaces. Beyond form and object, Magdalena Fernández’s enquiry into nature revisits the phenomenological reduction of minimalist practice to explore how nature is relevant to our conscious and affective experience.
Cultural heritages: History as citation and as inventory
Magdalena Fernández’s practice emerges from the context of contemporary Venezuelan and Latin American arts, encompassing a genealogy of minimalist, kinetic and concrete artistic movements, interpreted through the legacy of abstract painting and modernism. Simultaneously, her practice is informed by other disciplines such as spatial and design practices, mathematics and physics, which provide a socio-scientific grounding to her artistic research. The artworks presented in Echo trace the influence of formalist tradition and evoke a number of stylistic references which clearly position Magdalena Fernández’s practice in line with the legacy of modern style, aiming for purity of composition, geometry, rhythm, and abstraction. Nevertheless, the feminine gesture of her approach is driven by an ethics and a poetics of distance that reclaims an affirmative value of nature by rethinking the logic of abstraction ‘by virtue’ of its being true to nature. The employment of new media such as installations, site-specific works, video-installations, and digital animations, is relevant to the inventory of a new code of interpretation that allows the artist to explore the inherent, structural, dynamic, and virtual aspects of artistic experience.
Her installations, video-installations and mobile paintings establish a genealogical connection to concrete art by rethinking the notions of dynamis, nature and motion. This allows Fernández to reconfigure the language of sculpture through an architecture of the virtual that consists in mirroring a structure that is subject to perpetual repetitions and re-enactments. In particular, 1iHO008, Homenaje a Hélio Oiticica (2010) draws on the legacy of neo-concrete movements as they elaborate on the notion of motion by rethinking the floating surfaces of abstract painting through the intensity of nature and the flux of the virtual. In Fernández’s works, Oiticica’s notion of a ‘meta-schema’ becomes the return of an understanding of meta-art that values the agential quality artworks can have in shaping an experience that is not purely visual but engaging and immersive.
Between nature and artistic experience, Fernández’s practice encompasses a meticulous and feminine spatial investigation that is responsive to fields, contexts, environments, and sites. Aligned with the abstract and modernist attempt of superseding the limits of Euclidean geometry, Magdalena Fernández's practice responds to the physical, structural, and constitutive qualities of space and the sensible, affective experience of it. The sensitive geometry of her practice suggests a new logic of space that moves away from the logic of fixed categories, to be concerned with the play of presence and absence, events and relations, unity and multiplicity, and their grounding in experience. Between the inner and outer aspects of her work, the construction of a geometrical order is no longer functional to the sovereignty of pure reason, but extends to a topology of experience wherein space, time, and becoming adhere to the disclosure of nature. Her works extend the abstract and modernist preoccupation with a new order of space that endures in the substrate of our living experience. The evocative and immersive aspects of Fernández’s installations are key aspects to dwelling in the fields of her sensitive geometries. Her work establishes connections between events, relations, and experiences and the ways in which they apply to nature. It could be said that the geometry of Fernández’s installations is drawn from a movement of affection towards nature whereby space, time, and the purity of elemental signs conform to a logic that is not of pure reason, but of expectation, such as a tension that underpins the revealing of an image and reverberates onto the surface of her works. Intuition, synthesis, sedimentations, and repositioning correspond to the addressing of a differential geometry and its endless repetitions. The series Video apuntes and Grabado (2018-2019) are studies of composition wherein the artist extends the logic of abstraction through the multiversal connectivity of points, convergences, lines, and planes. Similarly, the abstract notion of composition seems to translate into a study on the play of structure, point, and line, tending towards virtual points of convergence in space. In this sense, Fernández’s understanding of geometry opens to a topology of modularities, elasticities and variations that the artist masters by intertwining nature’s internal necessity and the exactness of repetition and calculation.
Magdalena Fernández offers an insight into the very essence of nature through an artistic investigation on movement as it emerges from the substrate of an experience and surfs onto the pictorial fields of her works. The echo of Magdalena’s works reverberates with the dynamis of life, its virtual expressivity, rhythmic undulations, and figures drawn from geometrical abstraction. The immersive field of her installations resonates with a flow that is marked by synthesis, intervals, points and lines as they dissolve into an endless repetition, as it is suggested by the loop of her video-installations. Aligned with the attempt to supersede the order of Euclidean geometry through the register of abstract, modernist, and kinetic arts, Magdalena Fernández explores a materialism of deep time that translates into a chain of repetitions and re-enactments. Motion, dynamis, fluxes, and rhythms pervade the immersive experience of her installations, recalling the floating surfaces of Malevich’s paintings to suggest a surface's effects emerging from the substrate of her investigation. The fluid aspects of her works evolve and extend the possibilities of composition through chance, unpredictability, and approximation. The immersive field of 2Imp009 (2009) intertwines the assonances of syncopated raindrops and the sonorous effects of corporeal percussions, revisiting the plastic unity suggested by Mondrian. Through this composition, Fernández configures the chiasmus between drops of water falling vertically and the reverberations of horizontal lines extending towards infinity.
The virtual aspects of Fernández’s installations supersede the mechanics of solid bodies to focus on the integral, constituent, qualitative aspects of matter characterized by vibrations, fluxes, and pure flows. The use of new media, animations and digital technologies allows the artist to articulate an affective movement to address an experience of recreations and re-enactments for the viewer to experience. Fernández’s inquiry into movement attributes new meaning to traditional compositional elements. In particular, the syntax of abstraction and geometrical patterns is enriched by an enquiry that supersedes the logic of the conscious mind to reclaim the synthesis of time, nature, and human experience. In her work, synthesis is a process of reduction that is expressed not with a trajectory, but rather the multiple, heterogeneous orientation of points, lines, and surfaces. In this sense, Magdalena Fernández extends the notion of composition to explore shapes, geometries and figures through the flux of time, which subjects them to continuous metamorphoses and transformations. Without a specific trajectory, addressing only orientations, the surface of Fernández’s work reverberates with a rhythm of life, belonging, and the contrast between presence and absence, depth and surface, as evinced by the rigorous choice of black and white of her installations.
Instability describes a parameter for a reading of Magdalena Fernández’s work in line with those artistic practices that have been posed in the modern context under the question of the schemata of rational models of representation. Whilst the rise of practices and technologies have challenged the ways of rethinking lived experience, Magdalena Fernández's practice suggests an ethical concern with nature that is remarked by the implementation of a system of approximation, chance and indeterminacy. Recalling the figure of Echo might be useful to interpreting Fernández's inquiry into instability because in her work, the inauguration of a new field of investigation begins precisely from the dissolution of Narcissus's image when looking at the mirror of the water's surface. As the artist suggests, the fall, the cracking, the de-construction and de-composition of presence in contact with the surface is essential for a new configuration of nature aimed at exploring the inherent, structural aspects of an image in its endless repetition. The instability provided by the choice of immaterial materials allows the artist to explore nature ‘by virtue’ of its internal necessity and structural components. The dissolution of representation reclaims a chance for nature to resonate as an active agent of artistic configuration. A new equilibrium emerges from the instability that pertains to both experience and structure. Points, lines, and planes amplify the potential of abstract, minimalist, kinetic and concrete movements with the purpose of re-evaluating the intuitive, creative, virtual aspects of experience by addressing a new equilibrium that is subject to repetition, re-enactments, and transformations.
The virtual and the real
Magdalena Fernández's work is underpinned by a dualism between nature and its sensible and affective modes of apprehension. Rather than oppositional, this dualism is functional to addressing a new artistic configuration that is characterized by the polarities of the virtual and the real, as already present in the sculptural architectures of Jesús Soto and Hélio Oiticica. Instability resonates as functional to artistic configuration by resisting actualization through the marking of temporal deferrals as evinced by the gaps, intervals, fluxes and intensities that emanate from the substrate of Fernández’s images. The virtual configuration of her works can be perceived through a number of surface effects that the artist masters through the reinvention of the abstract and formalist registers. In her work, the virtual is ascribed to the synthesis of multiple forces to suggest diverse and multiple orientations as they emerge from the pure force of nature. The virtual dimension of her works, whether it be experiential as in the installation Homenaje a Jesús Soto (2019) or immersive as in 1iHO008, Homenaje a Hélio Oiticica (2010), is mediated by a play that is articulated to a mirroring function, the structuring of forces, and the purity of the sign.
This duality also reflects a tension between artistic freedom and natural necessity, as remarked by the artist’s interest in a chromatic scale that is almost entirely limited to the use of black and white. This style suggests the synthesis of a practice in action that is drawn onto points, lines, and spaces through an intuitive, conscious process that is subject to endless variations. The virtual window of her installations, video-installations and mobile paintings frames a field of reminiscences and rhythms, and extends the traditional understanding of abstraction through a synthesis that intertwines the virtual and the real. As Brian Massumi would suggest, in Magdalena Fernández's work the virtual is an echo of experimentation that keeps the viewer alert to the indeterminacy of nature whilst addressing the chanciness of the artistic sign. Between the virtual and the real, her works explore the disclosure of a natural order that is subject to the becoming of life.
Beyond the traditional understanding of form and object, Magdalena Fernández reclaims the disclosure of an event at the basis of an experience of nature. The staging of her installations exceeds the logic of presence to allow the essential, constitutive, relational, and agential qualities of nature to emerge onto the surface of her work. The frames of her installations correspond to the structuring of an experience that allows an event to resonate with syntheses, points, lines, extensivities and spatio-temporal functions. The use of new media allows Fernández to challenge the ways of understanding artistic processes, contributing to an exploration of poietic, differential, and radical approaches. The incongruities, juxtapositions, asymmetries, and variations that reoccur in her work, as suggested by the meta-composition of the immersive installation 1iHO008, Homenaje a Hélio Oiticica (2010), disclose an event over the order of abstract, rational models of representation. Between the inner and outer aspects of her installations, Fernández's ethos is described by an inquiry into the potency of nature, the revealing of an event and the awakening of a conscious experience that is perceived through the sonorous and visual effects that echo her compositions. Never intended towards a specific object but rather underlining an ethical concern towards experience, her installations sit between the folding and unfolding of an experience that is carried out through a chain of syntheses, rhythms, and connectivities. The disclosure of an event suggests an inquiry on the essential, structural and constitutive aspects of a radical experience. As evoked by the Díptico (amanecer/atardecer), Homenaje a Soto, (2011-2015), the event that interests Magdalena Fernández corresponds to a natural order and the unity of conscious experience. The chain of traits, points, lines, and signs that the artist addresses in her works inscribes events as a system of multiplicity that is subject to geometrical configurations with margins of freedom and unpredictability.
The almost theatrical setting of Magdalena Fernández’s site-specific works, installations and video-installations is relevant to a new mode of configuring experience through the opening of an ethical space that is characterized by its concrete, structural, and relational qualities in response to specific contexts. For Fernández, the mastering of space becomes a gesture in which the vocabulary of abstract composition is thought in relation to the texture of social contexts. This is evident in the series Corporal mobile painting, which includes the triptych consisting of 1pmc019, 2pmc019, and 3pmc019 (2019), wherein Fernandez proposes a way of framing experience through a ritual that aims at purifying space by rediscovering the energy of the field while establishing a sense of community. The squared frames of her videos document a ritual event that happens in the form of three casted circles composed as a chain of human relations that perform and celebrate a new experience of space. The frame and the circle become here the figures that circumscribe a ceremony enacted by a community in the process of approaching the field to receive bread, water, and candle lights, while involuntarily tracing a heterogeneous movement within a cast circular place. By rethinking these geometrical figures in relation to social context, Fernández’s videos enact an ethics of space that is engendered by the gesture and the dynamics of social contexts.
Similarly, in the site-specific works at Museo Amparo, Fernández draws attention to the modularity, rhythms, and connectivity that a space can suggest. It is the void that the artist intends to reconfigure through an excavation of the very essence of space in order to become receptacle, establishing a continuity between the inner and outer aspects of the museum’s architecture, space and surroundings. Rather than positioning a form, Fernández allows the existing space to be rethought as a technology, or a structure that follows a rhythmic composition through the repetition of modular schemes and the connectivity of points, lines and spatial extensivity. In her spatial investigation, the chiasmus between the virtual and the real reoccurs to suggest the affirmative aspects of dwelling, or the affirmative function of ‘being in space’ to remark an ethics of belonging and coexistence. The reticular installation at the Vestíbulo requires the viewer to traverse and interact with Fernández’s work and suggests a mode of appropriating an event that is abstract and simultaneously experiential. Infiltrating space between voids and figures, the reticular installation becomes the receptacle of an experience that addresses a new abstract, relational, geometrical order for the viewer to traverse. For Magdalena Fernández, aligned with the legacy of concrete art, space becomes an engendering practice, like a reflective experience and a mode of thinking that culminates, it could be said, with the installation at Museo Amparo, wherein the artist situates a work that mirrors the altitudes of the sky through a rhythmic geometrical composition that reconnects humans with the surrounding environment.
Diffraction as sensory experience
Magdalena Fernández's diffractive approach corresponds to addressing a sensitive, sonorous experience that moves away from the self-referentiality of representation to configure the entanglement of experience with the sensible. Diffraction and reverberation reflect the artist’s interest in exploring the visual and sonorous aspects of an artistic experience through a sensibility that challenges the order of abstraction to value the agency of nature emerging onto the surface of her installations. Side-lining the logic of form, vision and speculative thinking, her work draws on the dissolution of form and image to value the potency of scattered, elemental, elastic forces, resonating with a rhythm of life. Between absence and presence, the virtual and the real, interferences and motifs, energy and the graphic sign, diffraction pertains to an affective mode of apprehension towards nature that is intended towards its pure logic and internal necessity. This can be read in 2Ipm009, wherein the crossing of vertical and horizontal lines diffracts into a multiplicity of signs that dissolve and reposition themselves on the surface of her works. Through diffraction, Fernández allows the play of signs to be configured through rhythm and the chance of new formations. The diffractive lighting suggested by Magdalena Fernández reinterprets abstraction and extends it towards the synthesis of multiple orientations, mirroring a natural order emerging from the substrate of experience.
In White, experiences of "clear" (Heidegger) and of procreation (beget)
The experience of Magdalena Fernández’s exhibition culminates in the diptych 2pm006 and 4mp006 (2006), which traces a genealogy of the artist’s development back to the purity of abstract forms. The image of two black and white squares, floating atop the immersive planes of her mobile-paintings does not describe a merely stylistic citation to Malevich’s painting, but gathers together the entire experience of the exhibition Echo to evoke the unity of a conscious experience.
The white surface of Fernández’ s mobile-painting, whose perimeter is never precisely marked but suspended endlessly on the surface of her videos, is reminiscent of an image of white resonating with a pensive and engendering experience. It recalls the importance of white in art historical discourses, which traces back to Malevich’s non-representational practice to suggest a zero point of representation and the epiphany of a thought floating towards infinity. Fernández’s reflection on white draws upon the concept and the action of Lucio Fontana’s Manifesto Blanco (1946), and his interest in exploring the inner and outer aspects of pictorial surfaces. Aligned with these positions, Magdalena Fernández's diptych extends Soto’s understanding of the virtual through the configuration of an immersive experience. Drawing on these references, the white of Fernandez’s mobile-painting asks the viewer to enter the space of her white surfaces, which reverberate with the purity of the law of nature and its temporal necessity. Immersed in the white of her images, we perceive a thought that is a clearing, as Heidegger posits it, the opening and the emergence of an experience that is simultaneously present and absent. Beyond appearances, the clearing is the openness of truth and the resonance of an echo that calls into question an ethics of belonging. The white of Fernández’s mobile-painting reverberates with the affirmative power of nature and procreation for the viewer to experience through the rhythm of a never ending flow that is suspended within the frame of Fernández's virtual window.
Formalism: History and its location in contemporary art
Magdalena Fernández's practice is aligned with the formalist tradition as regards the principles of formal composition and style. These aesthetic categories acquire a new meaning and a new aesthetic value by superseding the notion of pure form through an inquiry into the modes of configuring an experience through new media and digital technologies. Recognizing the impossibility of art to ascribe to a pure abstract or rational model of representation, Magdalena Fernández draws from the formalist tradition to address a method of investigation that is drawn from the potency of nature and aligned with the possibility of chance, unpredictability and repetition that emerge at the surface of her work. Beyond presence and phenomena, Fernández’s practice turns representation into a movement of interiority and affective modes of apprehension. The visual aspects of her artistic experience derive from a gesture and, more importantly, from an action that is aimed at responding to the viewer and contexts of formations, as evinced in the series of videos 1vaLF018 Baja - 3vaLF018, 2vaLF018.mp4 and 5vaAB018.mp4.
Fernández's work addresses an aesthetic and ethical concern towards nature that is carried out through a politics of movement. The unity of thought that underlies the experience of her installations seems to find an analogy in physics, in the wave function discussed by Schrödinger’s equation (1925) describing the positive and negative aspects of electrons and matter waves interacting as a result of position and time. Drawing on this analogy, the legacy of formalism in her work extends towards agential, vibrant, sonorous aspects to attribute a new semantic connotation to the principles of synthesis, geometry, and signs. Magdalena Fernández rethinks the syntax and style of formalism by configuring an entanglement between humans and nature in a state of virtuality and immersion.