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Fede Lamas and Mónica Heller open BRUTAL

by Kevin Vaughn

This silent admiration for Fede Lamas has been slowly bubbling inside me since I first saw his work at ArteBA 2010. Nestled amongst an already impressive selection of young artists in the Barrio Joven section of the colossal annual arts fair was the ThisIsNotAGallery stand. The installation piece was an intimately constructed bedroom, to the side a bed table whose open drawers invited you to pick up one of the small 3D eyepieces that over-flowed from it. Hung around the room were pictures that one might find in a typical matrimonial illustrated in red pencil. Once the eyepiece was held up to the frame a seedier reality (that might also be found in a typical matrimony) was revealed – repressed memories or desires, either buried deeply or never realized, by each partner. The show was participatory, imaginative, an absolute standout amongst an enormous landscape of creativity.

So getting the news that there wouldn´t be a repeat participation for Lamas was a little disappointing. Some good news though, because he is about to open a new installation piece titled “BRUTAL” at La Fábrica (Perú 442) in San Telmo tomorrow (Wednesday the 8th of June). The installation is a double video presentation with artist Mónica Heller (whom I´d less knowingly begun to admire after seeing her guest VJ set at the pre-feriado party Fiesta HEY! last December).

In reality BRUTAL is a collaboration between three artists. Lamas, Heller, and the musician Pablo de Caro (of Mataplantas), who has arranged the soundtrack for the two pieces respectively titled “POLARIS” and “SANDRA”. The two videos (which both artists admit are markedly different in both theme and execution) will be played in two separate but adjoining rooms with de Caro´s music being the common denominator.

B R U T AL exhibition from Federico Lamas on Vimeo.



The story behind Heller´s “Polaris” seems like a series of coincidences. Like all of her videos, this one is loosely constructed around films that have visited her throughout her life. The last project, Noche Anterior, drew inspiration from The Odyssey and Stanley Kubrick´s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The newest film began with the idea of constructing collages from images found on the internet, manipulated to create a snowy landscape occupied by refrigerators. By complete chance Heller was on her way out from La Fábrica and saw a billboard with a refrigerator that was plugged into the North Pole. The Earth appears angry at the fridge for stealing all of its energy. In big letters was written POLARIS, the title she had been looking for.

She revisited Tarkovsky´s Solaris (which many consider a followup to 2001) and it contained the missing pieces of her unfinished video. According to Heller, “POLARIS” is the finale of a tale of love, a dream about modernity, a reflection of memory within the false premise of science fiction and suspense.

Lamas seems to take a similar approach, but rather than creating a hypnotic ending to a story, “SANDRA” is a narrative that occurs once everything has already finished - as if the end credits started rolling but the film continues to exist. Sandra is a robot invented in the 1960s to give pleasure; the video recounts her misadventures and those of humanity. Lamas´ story is an exaggerated fictitious future that takes place in the 1950s and 60s, created from a post-millennium perspective.

All three works were developed simultaneously but with differing goals, the result such an explosive surprise that not even the artists know what to anticipate.

The opening of BRUTAL is tonight (Wednesday the 8th of June) at 7:30pm in La Fábrica, Perú 442 in San Telmo. A second projection will be held, same place, same time, Friday the 17th of June. 


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