Itziar Okariz

etHALL
Calle Joaquín Costa 30
March 11, 2016–April 16, 2016

View of “Itziar Okariz: Diario de sueños. Septiembre.” (Diary of Dreams. September.), 2016.

For more than two decades, Itziar Okariz has blazed a trail for Spanish performance artists through a practice based on exploring the construction of identity. Her work stems from 1990s gender discourse, yet ascribing its qualities exclusively to this context would definitely be reductive, as the artist has always focused on a performativity that also examines the ties between landscape and architecture, sign and ritual, or sexuality and territory. In her quest to render the self, her practice took a turn to the verbal over the spatial, privileging language over the body.

Much of Okariz’s practice is built upon small linguistic units and signs that produce meaning through emphatic reiteration. However, in her current exhibition, “Diario de sueños. Septiembre.” (Diary of Dreams. September.), she specifically retreats to the prelinguistic stage of her own dreams, descriptions of which she read out loud on the opening night in an action driven by her usual repetitive and abrupt utterances. What remains from that performance is a number of white sheets of paper hung at regular intervals throughout the gallery, turning the space into a calendar of dreams. In each of them, an accumulation of digitally printed words forms sentences that carry only a dubious meaning (all works untitled and 2015). Their repetition, however, shapes paragraphs that eventually produce a somewhat coherent whole. Some of their surfaces are left blank, though, indicating that Okariz had not remembered that night’s dream. Both performance and its remnants swing between past and present, between the unconscious and the rational. They are ultimately both an archive and a score for future constructions of selfhood.

— Javier Hontoria