The Red Situation B , felt and sewing materials, 300 x 80 x 15 cm., 2007. Image via La Nube Loca.
Johanna Unzueta’s uses felt as a sculptural material to build structures and objects that bring attention to the history of labor. For her series of “industrial sculptures”, Unzueta was inspired by the photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher, constructing factories, mills, water towers and houses. These sculptures were included in her 2007 solo exhibition at Thurst Projects, where the artist assembled a kind of cityscape of felt consisting of structures, awnings and butterfly nets.
Installation View. Image via Thrust Projects.
Black Windmill , 2005; Red Grain Elevator, 2006. Image via Thrust Projects.
In more recent projects, Unzueta has been increasingly interested in site-specific installations that engage with the space, constructing pipes that go in and out of corners, or ladders that lead to an imaginary attic. But besides the work’s spatial arrangement, her felt constructions can also create a social and cultural narrative. For her large-scale installation titled Iron Folklore at Launch Pad Artist Residency and Project Program at the Queens Museum of Art in New York, Unzueta occupied the museum’s elevator and second floor with a diverse number of industrial objects such as sledgehammers, a shovel and a wheelbarrow. The installation was a direct response to a controversial urban renewal plan that was about to take place within the vicinity of the museum in Willets Points, also known as the Iron Triangle, an area known for auto repair shops and junkyards.
Exhibition Iron Folklore, Launch Pad Artist Residency and Project program, Queens Museum of Art, New York, curated by Hitomi Iwasaki. Image via La Nube Loca.
Exhibition Work Dignifies, Or Gallery, Vancouver B.C., curated by Michèle Faguet. Image via La Nube Loca.
Johanna Unzueta (b. 1974, Santiago, Chile) studied art at the Universidad Católica in Santiago and moved to New York City in early 2000, where she currently resides. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions including: The Skills, Visual Drugs, Zürich (2008); Algunas Bestias, Perros Negros, Mexico City (2007); Linea de Hormigas, A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro (2007); Johanna Unzueta, Thrust Projects, New York City (2007); Ora y Labora, Die Ecke Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago (2006); Trapped by Mutual Affection, a project by Galerie Christian Nagel, Miami (2005) and Cerberus, Planet 22, Geneva (2005).