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Analy Trejo

Stimulating the Courage to Face the Unknown

05/24/2024

by Analy Trejo

Visual artist, researcher, and professor Analy Trejo (Venezuela, 1986) reflects on the relationships between pedagogical processes and artistic practices. Through various languages and media, her work delves into human vulnerability, determined to affirm life insistently and to reflect on space departing from the body as the axis of everything. This is her way of making sense of the world, from her lived experience. Through observation, patience, and order, Analy’s work addresses the search for beauty and unity in the face of disorder and chaos.

Education

Training

Being an artist isn’t easy to assume. It takes courage to be one because it implies the willingness to stand up on your own in front of the world, to gather all your energy and condense it into projects that speak to humankind. This means a physical and an internal effort that can give way to autonomous thinking, to a voice uttered above the alienating dynamics imposed by our time. In my case, it was a decision I made years after graduating from the School of Art at the University of Los Andes (ULA) and even completing the schooling of another degree (Art History) at the same university. But the fact is that academic training doesn’t make you an artist, it only introduces you to a field of knowledge related to art. Being an artist must be embodied with everything that shapes you, as it means placing yourself in a manner that mobilizes you toward freedom. 

I remember my first class in art school when I was 17 years old: It was a literature workshop with Professor Berta Silvester, who had great discursive mastery and richness of speech. She encouraged us to expand our perception of the world through readings that powerfully caught my interest and generated what she insisted on calling “referential frameworks” to understand the world.

Teaching

Art isn’t just about mastering a technique. Knowing how to assemble a structure,  oil or watercolor painting, drawing with sanguines, or the technical handling of a camera—to name a few—are merely instrumental knowledge associated with the endless expressive possibilities that could be used to produce a body of work. I don’t mean to be pejorative, but this can be learned even by watching online tutorials. The crux of the matter lies in encouraging others to the challenge of facing the unknown, uncertainty, the quest for the essence of things; to rise above the daily current, to dare to see beyond the horizon; to tame the internal noises that keep struggling to overcome the desire for external approval; to encourage the adventure of proposing objects, images, or situations that enlighten us.

Therefore, I feel that one of the most difficult things is to be an art teacher, because how do you teach someone to be an artist without contaminating them with your own concepts and prejudices? In my teaching practice, I have learned to be an agitator of thought, a mediator to awaken sensitivity in others, and a companion to the processes from the moment it sprouts as an idea or intuition.

When proposed creatively and purposefully, presented as a game or ritual broad enough to embrace mistakes as a gain, the teaching practice can offer great contributions to the artistic practice itself. Culturally, we have been led to believe that error is synonymous with failure, something negative that blocks a goal. However, in the artistic practice, error is an opportunity to reinvent oneself, to dialogue with the unexpected, with what escapes our control. Errors allow us to establish alternative routes of displacement, so, their occurrence should actually be celebrated. The important thing is to undertake this practice with respect, to assume it—as ambivalent as this might sound—seriously and joyfully, being aware of the intention behind this game, as a means and an end in itself, without leaving aside the insight, the curious spirit, and a discipline of thinking. Seen in this way, the educational practice could be an artistic practice in itself, but it must be assumed as such, seeking out strategies that allow grasping the physicality of this experience, as it happens in relational practices.

Learning

From a very early age, I’ve been intrigued by how mysterious life can be. By the physical, cultural, social, and political phenomena; by what is always there, even if it’s not perceived in an obvious way; by what we tend to overlook, what remains hidden; by time, by what is both minute and immeasurable at once, by the individual and the environment. Because of this, an artist that has fascinated me since I was very young is Christian Boltanski. His works are so powerfully evocative, condensing so much significance and resonance in very modest elements.

I like to drink from various sources to enrich my worldview and perspectives of art. I draw from literature, cinema, music, visual arts, dance. One author I always turn to is Giorgio Agamben because his thinking helps me dialogue with the constant question of what an artist is and how they live their time. On the other hand, Buddhist philosophy, specifically Nichiren Buddhism, which I have been practicing for 16 years, has expanded my thinking. And I feel this pours into my work.

Processes

Beginnings

There is no single way as to how ideas arise to start a project. Sometimes, the beginning comes from observation or intuition, actions that I try to translate and be aware of. Other times, the starting point is to think of myself with regard to the environment, the vastness of the universe, the reality around me, or concepts such as volume and space. And sometimes, the beginning is not something predetermined but contained in latent images stored in my memory, in sensations, or in objects that I keep for as long as it takes me to do something with them, to attach a new idea to them, or enhance some of their (formal or conceptual) qualities.

Questions

Doubt, error, and contingency are events no artist can escape. In my processes, they arise naturally. When they occur, I try to dedicate enough space and time to them because I feel they can help me strengthen the initial intentions or open gateways for future projects. In art, paths are not linear, let alone finite; there will always be detours and different routes to explore.

My recent work might seem different from that of a few years ago; however, they share the intention of thinking about individuality as connected to the universal. The forms, materials, and media have changed, but the essential content remains. The processes have been enriched because now I’m more aware of the importance of each small detail, moment, time, idea, material, reference, or resonance throughout the development of a project.

Analy Trejo: La Tierra de la luz tranquila (2023). Photo performance.

Courtesy: Analy Trejo.

Strategies

I don't really have a steady methodology to organize my processes, beyond asking myself questions and doing my best to answer them; looking for theoretical, literary, and/or visual references; taking notes and records, drawing, and inventing games. At times, during the process, I also allow myself to be silent, which is a strategy for listening sharply to the materiality being embodied, by means of inhabiting what is unfolding.

Procedures

Annotation is usually very valuable. Writing down ideas, intentions, sensations, images, memories, links, and references allows me to see more clearly what is diffuse during the development of a project. The closeness of what is unfolding makes it difficult to see certain things clearly, so, writing can bring some light onto the path.

Dialogues

Despite the individual mode of my practice, connecting with others is essential to make all the magic possible. Collaboration has been one of the most significant possibilities for allowing me to realize my work. Many people have collaborated with me, for example, providing me with a physical space to assemble installations before their exhibition; or those who have helped me in specific moments, such as collecting materials, on-site construction, packaging, transporting the works, or other technical procedures.

In addition, some approach me to talk about what they see in my processes—some linked to art research, others are not. Either way, they are all equally valuable because they make me think about the meaning of what I’m doing.

Works & Projects

In Progress

I feel that I’m currently in two working spheres. On the one hand, there is the energy I devote to continuing my artistic projects, which for some time now have been driven by an obsession to affirm life and a desire to sublimate the precariousness of these eroding world dynamics, in addition to those of my locality. I’m interested in generating instances that I like to call “essential architectures.” I build these structures to create symbolic spaces to safeguard life and important matters we sometimes forget, such as comfort, rest, tranquility, dreams, or the feeling of home.

On the other hand, there is my work as a teacher in the chair of three-dimensional expression, which I seek to approach in a playful yet disciplined way. This allows for the awakening of the perceptive spirit in those who come to my classroom. Beyond imparting technical knowledge in sculpture, I’m interested in proposing practices that stimulate sensitivity, coupled with exercising observation and thinking about what emerges from this experience. Recently, I began proposing a work methodology in class where ideas are generated collectively. This aims at moving away from the isolated ways of artistic practices, which increase ego, shyness, and isolation; instead, I want to offer the possibility of making, thinking, and being together on a path mobilized by common purposes.

In Retrospect

Learning is an inescapable part of every experience. All my processes have taught me the importance of observation, listening, and dialoguing with what arises on every occasion. A small detail says a lot and oftentimes more is gained when we allow ourselves to go to the simple—which does not mean being plain. I have learned what I like to call “the greatness of the simple,” which I try to achieve in the outcome of each new challenge I set myself.

I recently participated in a project led by Miguel Braceli. I accompanied my freshman students from the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Los Andes in the construction of a Collective Reticulárea,1 which activated a network of different materials, formal resolutions, and the participation of other artists.

First semester students from the School of Visual Arts and Graphic Design at ULA in the construction of process of Collective Reticulárea modules. Mérida, Venezuela (2024).

Courtesy: Analy Trejo.

Together, we managed to expand the connective capacity that transcends distance and differences. This project also implied activating the spatial principle of an iconic work for Venezuelan art: the Reticulárea (1969) by Gertrud Goldschmidt (Gego). For those of us who participated in its construction, the experience highlighted the value of connections, bonds, and junctures, which were visible in the nodes that articulated the network; these were fundamental points that allowed for support and interweaving all the diversity presented in this space. This is very significant, both regarding the work and the positive resonance it could generate in the local and global context.

Contexts

The context is like the shadow: inseparable from the body. In my projects, the body takes on metaphorical forms because I’m not driven by its representation but by the desire to sublimate the complex reality around us. It’s inevitable not to feel the erosion of certain complexities that define the current contexts: the speed of social networks, the demanding immediacy of everything, the warfare movements, the precarious social, cultural, and political atmospheres. All of this gradually leaves aside so many fundamental matters for life, such as calmness, rest, joy, and the feeling of home. Taking this particular sensation as a point of departure, linked to basic human needs such as the desire to live free and happy, I am interested in generating symbolic instances that light up the standing on resistance.2

There is an idea that the public realm is detached from the private, that the particular is not connected to the context that frames the collective, that individual experiences are not common to others. However, in reality, the experience of the public realm transcends our intimate sphere and determines much of what makes up the experience of living. Thus, although my processes are produced individually, they relate to issues common to all.

 "Haunted, en el lugar más bello que existe" (2022). Installation view at Sala Mendoza. Caracas, Venezuela.

Courtesy: Analy Trejo.


In the scope of teaching, a few months ago, I produced a direct experience in the public space with my first-semester students of the School of Art at ULA. We set out in an exercise to explore the city through elements, textures, and buildings that hold a symbolic value in the local imagination. This exercise has encouraged me to begin contemplating the educational practice as an artistic practice in itself. Also, it is a way of being together in an action that transcends the isolation and disconnection from our context.