By: Camila Álvarez
Agustina Woodgate is an alchemist. She transforms the mundane into elegant pieces that deal with the most basic questions that us, human beings, have been asking ourselves for ages. The same questions we should ask ourselves more often: Where are we? How do we give meaning to the place we inhabit? How do we interact with other humans? What’s really important?
We’ve had the pleasure to run into her pieces in the streets of our city since 2004, after she answered an ad on Craigslist from a Wynwood gallery that was looking for artists. She submitted two images and was selected. Anthony Spinello, the gallery dealer, liked her work because it was an Ana Mendieta-first-works-kind-of-piece, dealing with gender and identity bending.
After her initiation in the Miami art world, Agustina has surprised us with pieces that range from spontaneous performances, to rugs made with stuffed animals, to poems sewn onto second-hand clothes, to formally beautiful installations in public or site/specific spaces. Many times, the piece she is working on inspires her next piece. An example would be the Hair Towers she built with the hair she collected for four years in Buenos Aires, Miami, New York, and Puerto Rico, when she was giving free haircuts to people on the streets.
Agustina graduated from the National University of Visual Arts in Argentina and is represented bySpinello Gallery. Her works have recently gone global, with pieces exhibited at venues such as the Montreal Biennial, the MOCA in North Miami, the KW Institute of Contemporary Art in Berlin, El Museo Nacional del Grabado, and the Denver Art museum, where she is currently exhibiting some of her pieces.
She just came back from Buenos Aires, where she had a solo show at the Faena Arts Center in Buenos Aires, and where she drew a 1,692 square long hopscotch, starting at Plazoleta Cortázar, and extending to sidewalks, parks, and other urban areas.
We talked to her about the processes behind her work…
CA: You have so much fun. You haven’t allowed yourself to be boxed in any medium. What ties your work together?
AW: I consider my work as interventions, a reaction to already existing situations. I do move across mediums. I am driven by a process that considers behavioral patterns and organizational systems across time and that invites people to interact with them in other ways. Ultimately, my interest is in the connection of life experiences to abstract concepts.
I create objects, site-specific projects, and collaborative events that explore interplays of people and their surrounding landscapes. My work reflects on civic politics and the use of space and place, often with a ludic and regenerative approach.
The process of your art making seems to be one of the most important things for you, and I read the favorite skill you’ve learned as a result of your work is meditation. Can you tell us more about how these? How have these two things collided?
It is true that some of my works take very long periods of time to complete—long and repetitious actions naturally turn into extended periods of silence, hence the meditative quality of the process. The objects/ situations/ sites inform the process and the process, informs the action.
You’ve said Miami has been a playground for you. What do you think makes this city an easy place to explore and to play in?
The amount of available space in every sense of the word. Also I see Miami as some sort of experimental ground, like a lab or a test site.
You’re a gatherer…why this fascination with collecting/recycling things?
I collect things that fascinate others. I collect things that are already collected and yet discarded.I am a selective hoarder. My intention is not to create new things but to recreate the already existing ones. I am inspired by thermodynamics and the perpetual motion of things. My process-oriented practice considers everything, discards nothing, and turns everything into something else.
One of the first things you did in Miami was the Tower Series, which bricks were woven from hair collected while offering free haircuts in the street. How did both of those ideas come about?
One informed the other. The Mobil Salon was a public action/intervention and with time it became the process of collecting.
How was the process of selecting the poems you used for the poetry bombing?
It was a collaboration with the O, Miami Team. The parameter was the character limit that can fit on a label.
Can you tell me about the inspiration and process of If These Walls Could Talk, my favorite installation of yours?
School. There where three classrooms and three artists. I sanded the four walls of one of them, collected the dust and placed it on the chalk edge of a chalkboard I found in on the closets.
What are you currently reading?
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus.
Immense question. From Martin Creed to Bert Rodriguez, David Bowie, David Lynch, Andy Kaufman…
Follow Agustina Woodgate on Instagram.
Featured Photo Ballroom, Lot of 175 sanded outdated world globes, Dimensions variable, 2014, courtesy of Spinello Projects
*This interview was originally published on Culture Designers