JENNIFER LóPEZ AYALA
May 12, 2023 -July 16, 2023
The indivisibility of space and self-perception and the resulting question of the existential nature of space permeates the main work of Jennifer López Ayala. Her particular interest lies in the "injured space" and the themes of pain, trauma, and healing in the tension between the individual and the collective. For López Ayala, the physicality and reality of pain, as well as the localization of vulnerability in space, are at the center of her work. Each space has for her a memory of pain, an aesthetic fracture, a wound, and a secret that reveal themselves in the act of exhibiting, seeing, and remembering.
The artist's site-specific, space-penetrating installations and assemblages are characterized by characteristic eggshells and a strictly geometrically structured composition. Beyond the iconographic or symbolic significance of the egg, such as a symbol of life and fertility, the eggshell serves not only as a narrative but also advances as a new "painterly" medium - analogous to the color dots of a pointillistic painting.
In her installations, Jennifer López Ayala attempts to expose the essence of a specific space in all its facets and to explore the potentials of space as well as its physical possibilities and limitations. She constantly dissects existing spatial structures to question spatial boundaries and predefined ranges of motion and to counter them with new structures and movement spaces. This creates an ambivalent interplay of fundamental, ontologically shaped spatial experiences that penetrate each other, bringing to mind the reference to one's self.
Against this backdrop, in the installation Bring Back My Memories - Optogenetics Part II (2022), López Ayala also raises the question of processing pain and trauma. How is it localized in memory, body, or space? The installation allows an immersive spatial experience in darkness under UV light directly related to optogenetics. This neurobiological research direction traces the memory process in the brain using fluorescent proteins. The eggshells are thinly coated with lacquer to be illuminated under UV light and emerge as broken bodies. Like memorials, the fractured bodies remind us of the transmission of traumas across generations and are a reference to the healing effect of collective memory.
Ultimately, Jennifer López Ayala's installations focus on the viewers, who are confronted with the vagueness and ambiguity of feelings and sensations regarding the spatial experience. Not every experienced space is always apparent in terms of what one feels towards it or within it, just as it is not always easy to formulate how one feels at the moment. The artist thus refers to fragmentation in coping with traumatic experiences. When people have traumatic experiences, they often tend to split them into fragments. This makes the unimaginable more bearable, as the affected individuals are not forced to remember the entire traumatic experience. Jennifer López Ayala understands her installations as bringing together these fragments, which combine in the act of exhibiting and viewing to form a new body or space.
The exhibition OPTOGENETICS brings together for the first time Jennifer López Ayala's Memorials of Optogenetics with the installation Bring Back My Memories - Optogenetics Part II (2022), which was last shown in the exhibition Yesterday, today, tomorrow at the ZERO Foundation in Düsseldorf.