18 March 2023

MERUNTÖ: In the house of spirits by Lucia Pizzani

With her exhibition “Meruntö: In the house of spirits,” artist and environmentalist Lucía Pizzani invites us to take part in a ritual for remembering and recovering the knowledge of how to coexist with and within nature. Through a selection of solar prints, photography on paper and fabric, and ceramics-based sculptures, she honors ancestral spiritual practices and converts the gallery space into a temple to Meruntö, a cosmic energy force derived from the sun that South American Pemon Indigenous tradition holds to be housed in all living organisms.

Rooting her practice in Pemon philosophy, the artist conjures idols representing nature’s invisible forces. For works like Totem Anima, 2022, and Totem Felino, 2022, she achieved the textured surfaces by imprinting clay sourced from the United Kingdom with Mexican corncobs. These objects were then mounted on four pedestals arranged with a ceremonial air in the center of the room. To create her works, Pizzani often uses plants and materials from different territories—here, the corncob—to symbolize a syncretism of geographies. This strategy, among others, allows her to evoke ways in which natural ecosystems have been affected by a global history of colonialism, trade, and migration.

Flanking the walls, the photographic series, “Tactile Botanica,” 2023, captures the artist’s own hand holding various tropical plants that were dispersed to and from South America, such as bananas, eucalyptus, and Asian palms. The gestures depicted are, according to Pizzani, performative acts of loving embrace. Though they reflect on the damage to ecosystems inflicted by humanity, they also acknowledge the inseparability of humankind and nature, bonded by the force of Meruntö, and thus issue a call for a return to ancestral practices of care.

Read the original article here: https://www.artforum.com/picks/lucia-pizzani-90253