Sandra Bejarano: Taboos of the female body

The artist Sandra Bejarano in her studio. Image credit: Sara Chaparro Olmo.

A visit to the studio of the Munich based artist Sandra Bejarano. Sandra works on preconceived ideas and taboos on and around the female body.

Munich – To get to Sandra Bejaranos (29) studio you walk along a wall of milk-glas on the outside of the DomagkAteliers – a studiobuilding in Munich. It is on the groundfloor and the path can be a little muddy in the winter. Going through a door in this window-wall, you enter her studio. Sandras studio is one room, it has white walls with a high ceiling and is illuminated by bright white neon lights. It has a really clean, organized, focussed feeling to it. This is where the artist creates her works.

Could you tell us about your work?
SANDRA BEJARANO I combine performance, installation and video, using unconventional organic materials, such as fluids or body parts modified through new techniques of molecular gastronomy to approach contemporary gender issues related to the body and its connotations. However, the medium or form of presentation varies according to the concept.

What are you working on right now?
I am currently developing a research project on the fertility industry and the new business of egg donation, based on the study of articles published by researchers and expert companies in the field, as well interviewing women who have donated eggs or who have become mothers through in vitro fertilisation techniques. These extremely simplified slogans try to convey the message to the viewer as clearly and directly as possible. Quick information, as we are used to on social networks.
These statements, sometimes ironic or sarcastic, are not intended to be judgements for or against such techniques, but are simply presented as facts of which one can draw their own conclusions. For now, these are the first steps in a matter I want to go deeper into.

Images of the new work by Sandra Bejarano in different stages of the creative process in the atelier. Image credit: private.

There was a new developement in your work regarding the importance of written text. Can you tell us more about that?
I’ve realised that in recent works, the obsession with language has taken over my creative process. I feel the need to write directly on the supports that make up my work, whether on canvas or directly on my own skin, as I tattooed myself in the performance “How long will this last” that took place in the Café Cosmos during the first Lockdown in Munich. 
Before all this situation it was important for me the direct face-to-face confrontation of the spectator with my work. I suppose that now that this is no longer possible, I find in written language the most direct and closest way to generate a provocation in the viewer.

What drives you to do what you do?
Inspiration come from questions and problematics that arise and affect my life, especially about the relationship with the body, the female body in particular. I realised that I am not the only one who raises these questions, and that the common denominator of these issues is that often they are uncomfortable matters that, for some reason are not talked about out loud. These problems are accepted as a given and not subjected to any reflection. These things make me mad. And that is usually what pushes me use my art as a platform to bring these issues to the table; trying to reflect on preconceived ideas and taboos encouraging the audience to question concepts and moral values.

What guides your artistic research?
It depends on the theme of the project. But I am always interested on the anthropological aspect. My work is based on real concepts and problematics that affect our society today. Google and books are my main tools, but of course social media has become another fast way to explore artists, galleries and companies.

Pictures of the performance “How long will this last” in Café Cosmos. The exhibition was a part of “#beapart München”.Various institutions and spaces from Munich invited artists to present exhibition concepts developed in times of Corona. Image credit: private.

What kind of atmosphere do you like when you work?
I like to work alone in the atelier listening to music or a podcast.

When you feel stuck, how do you get un-stuck?
I tend to stay away from the process. I do any other activity that has nothing to do with art, or the subject of my particular project. I also usually go to museums and exhibitions of other artists.  Of course, this is currently a problem, since everything is closed. So, I resort to interviews or documentaries about artists who inspire me. But what helps me most is discussing ideas with friends whose opinion I value, or other artists. I see it as fundamental to expose the creative process to exhaustive critique.

“I believe that good art is the one that does not leave you indifferent. The one that is able to slap us in the face (…).”
– From RE:MAGAZINEs studiovisit with Sandra Bejarano

What are you curious about? What would you like to explore further?
I am interested in investigating techniques from other fields that have nothing to do with art and to see if they can have an application within my creative process. Installation and performance are very broad disciplines that can embrace almost anything.

What makes an artwork “good” in your opinion? Why?
I believe that good art is the one that does not leave you indifferent. The one that is able to slap us in the face and open a space for discussion and different points of view.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
The other day I went to play darts but with axes. I laughed a lot when I saw how surprisingly good I am.

Which artwork, exhibition or piece of media inspired you recently?
The best movie I watched this year was “Ema” by Pablo Larraín. I also highly recommend Fran Lebowitz´s Documentary: “Pretend it’s a city”.
The books “Memories of a Savage” and “Queen” by Bebi Fernández (a pseudonym she uses because she is threatened with death) talk about the networks of sexual explotation that the albanokosovar mafia leads on the the mediterranean coast in Spain. I recommend them especially for people who still believe that prostitution is a free will practice.
Lately I’m listening to different music, depending on the mood, but I am researching female rappers – not so easy to find in a musical genre dominated by men. And “Radiojaputa” podcasts always accompany my tea in the morning.

Where are you based and what do you like about the local art scene?
I am based in Munich. The museums here offer a great variety: from the classics like The Old Pinakoteca, to the great contemporary artists in Haus der Kunst, Lehnbachhaus, Villa Stuck… But above all, it is importat to note the large nummer of initiatives that support young artists, both galleries and studio programs, accessible grants and awards. There is a real interest in the cultural scene.

Video of Sandra Bejaranos work “HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST”

Who are your favorite art world people to follow on social media?
@f____e____a, @sarahmapleart, @amaliaulman, @candelacapitan, @sophia_suessmilch, @claudia_holzinger

Which artists, curators or other art world people do you recommend for the readers to check out?
Pilvi Takala, Sarah Maple, Tania Bruguera, Aki Sasamoto, Laure Prouvost, Regina Jose Galindo.


SANDRA BEJARANO WAS RECOMMENDED FOR ARTISTSCURRENT BY JULIA WALK.

You can find Sandras work here:
Her website: www.sandrabejarano.com
Instagram: @sandrabejarano_



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