A Subversive Aesthetic



Johanna Unzueta

A Little Piece of Me

The piece that I am currently working on consists of making tiny replicas of houses and other types of buildings out of felt. These mini-sculptures are made to be grouped together... This "city" will occupy different spaces in different ways, depending upon where it is installed and how the buildings are grouped. Through this process, the idea of the city itself is re-examined in different ways.

For some time now, I have wanted to install a part of this city in a refrigerator. This idea came to me, while crossing Siberia by train — I had many questions... how do the people there use their land? What are their houses like? What do they eat... how do they live? I have always been attracted by this wintry landscape, the lovely colors of the houses, which are so tiny in such an open and limitless space.

Perhaps, then, I would like to make this as a way of recreating something difficult to imagine; the refrigerator’s freezer seems to me to be the perfect place for the installation of my "city". By using the freezers in various houses with their different occupants, I try to leave a little bit of myself in the houses of my friends and acquaintances.

A little piece of me is a video installation which brings together the distinct notions of space and object, of the relationship between man and nature, man and house, and looks at the idea of comfort...

A little piece of me is the next part in a continuing series of works which have also questioned the limits between everyday spaces and the space of art.


Imagine that our bodies are always surrounded by something... by things which have volume and movement. Imagine a situation where it is the objects which move around us, instead of us moving around them. Imagine a reversal in position, in who or what has the ability to move.

Putting my head into my work is about seeing my body as a part of the work, as a base, or another object to look at. Houses that emerge from my head, shapes that are in my mind. A house, after all, is the expression of its occupant, a social totality which gives you an idea about economics, power or anonymity.

The principal idea behind producing photographs of these house-hats is to re-examine the relationship between body and sculpture. My presence is what brings movement to the image, and it is what dresses the sculptural element.



I use felt because it is a material that allows me to build, in a simple way, three-dimensional objects. Felt also has a very natural origin which gives the pieces a warm feeling. It also has a wide range of colors and thicknesses… with this think about the way sculptures use iron sheets… and what I do has a completely different strategy.

I do not see my work as specifically political yet I do think it has social concerns. The structure of the land, the political geography… how man uses the land, how cities are organized. In this sense I am very attracted to architecture, to its forms, to its functions. Industrial buildings, industrial areas, their relation to housing, to residential areas… how cities like New York or Santiago or Moscow have each one their own internal relations… and how the habitants of these cities live in this situation.