Mar García Ranedo

In industrialized nations—those German sociologist Ulrich Beck describes as risk societies—the construction of the self is becoming the central challenge, one their citizens are obliged to confront every day. The old regimes of the self, which guaranteed the construction of the individual through the constant exchange of fixed designations—relative to social dictates, religious beliefs, culture, gender, and so on—are yielding little by little to a situation in which to construct oneself is an arduous, always unfinished task. Subject to all kinds of mobilities—biological, geographic, cultural, and social—the new self is a permanent challenge. At the same time, consumption and the collective imaginary (products of the entertainment, design, advertising, and cultural/leisure industries) divide or compete for the task: how to give the subject the necessary experience and knowledge to facilitate its own recognition (and fabrication) as an identity, as a constructed self.

The work of Mar García Ranedo directly resists these processes. Lie other artists of her generation, she ironizes our projection of identity through consumer goods and gives expression to our suspicions of their promises. Before the forces of the advertising industry, committed to associating the individual with a specific brand or logo, García Ranedo’s “Objetos Con-signados” (Con-signed objects) refer us to a universe of autonomous things removed from any reference to the market or any signature other than the artist’s.

The exhibition included two types of work: first, paintings (all works 2001), in which the object represented—a ladies’ handbag—is shown opposed to any attempt at its serialization. It must be remembered that, despite the pretensions to “exclusivity” granted some of these objects of sumptuary consumption, they are only possible through a certain degree of industrial serialization. The artistic representation, on the other hand, is an absolutely unrepeatable singularity, and even implies a degree of fetishization, which García Ranedo has underlined by adding locks of synthetic hair to the paintings. Next to this object that has been refetishized through painting and by the artist’s signature, a second series of less particularized bags was exhibited, each one a canvas replica of the painted model. This time the bags were present as material objects, with their own body—although this body continues to be constituted from within the sphere of art and as such inhabits its own difference, and appears to be unrepeatable even in the series.

As opposed to works like those of Sylvie Fleury, or even Vanessa Beecroft, these pieces parodically stray from the Dowers of the construction of identity (particularly female identity) that are attributed to objects of sumptuary, cult consumption. The phantasmagoric projections, through which the falsified (and falsifying) world of merchandise, with its gleaming advertisements, attempts to delude and seduce us, come to nothing. García Ranedo’s objects refer, instead, to a universe of private symbolism, marked by the personal memory of the body or the artist’s own gesture.

José Luis Brea

Translated from Spanish by Michele Faguet.