The central topic of Camila Téllez’s artistic practice is the issue of identity. She is interested in performativity and the multiple layers of her own identity, characterized by the experience of migration. To shed some light on the process in which subjectivity is formed, her works refer to autobiographical elements, personal memories, and experiences that she recreates in transplants into new contexts and spaces in which she interweaves the present, the past, reality, and fiction. In her work, she often collaborates with other artists, thus creating around her artistic practice a community of individuals with whom she shares a similar interest.
At the Likovni salon, she is presenting her project Spring transition created in cooperation with the artist Eszter Katalin. The miniseries currently includes eight episodes in which the artist embodies the character of a vampire. The series delves into the phenomenon of vampirism from a queer, trans, and lesbian perspective, and offers different representational frameworks for reading the figure of a vampire, beyond the violent image characteristic of popular culture. The artist is interested in how the character of a vampire is presented in the history of film, especially when addressing lesbian content. Literature is another important reference point for her, in particular the novel Carmilla (1873), considered a pioneering work that also addresses lesbian sexuality and in which the character of a female vampire appears for the first time. Through the series Spring Transition , Camila Téllez disintegrates the dominant representation of vampirism and instead of threat and fear highlights the concern, care, vulnerability, empowerment, and co-dependence.
Creation of the series was triggered by the artist’s personal memory from her teenage years when she experienced her first menstruation and started wearing dental braces, thus transforming into a vampire. She called this process of transformation “monstruation”. She later realized that she relied on role play to deal with or avoid the discomfort of identifying with the female gender and that she assumed a new identity – that of a genderless character of a vampire – in order to move beyond the cis-normativity and distance herself from the requirements of her environment. The series includes multiple episodes in which the artist reconstructs through her body’s memory the chapters of her life, interweaves them with fictional elements, and relates them to the current social and political issues pertaining to the production of subjectivity. She uses the form of interview as a common thread for all episodes. The camera presents the artist’s reflection, since vampires cannot perceive themselves in the mirror; moreover, it represents the significant other. The artist Eszter Katalin in the role of a camera operator and the interviewer occupies the place of reflection, identification, or distinction, but also a border, the intimate space of the other. This involves revealing, discovering, and accepting one’s own subjectivity that is constantly in the process of change and eludes categorization, yet simultaneously perceives the mechanisms through which the environment is being inscribed into the body. The metaphor of feeding – vampires survive by sucking other people’s blood – addresses the relationship and raises the awareness of how other bodies and voices considerably affect identity through the process of internalization or distinction. The series also touches upon the issue of representation of the other, especially the identities that veer away from the hegemonic social structures. It raises questions related to the representation of gender and politics of visibility; it speaks of desire, lust, shame, intimacy, control, adaptation, belongingness, and connection. At the Likovni salon, the series is presented as a multichannel video spatial installation consisting of respective episodes and documentation of the process of transformation.
Camila Téllez (Santiago de Chile, 1982)is a transdisciplinary artist based in Bilbao. In her recent artistic work, she investigates through performance, autobiography, migration, gender, writing, voice, and image, different expressions of her identity in the spaces she inhabits.
Eszter Katalin (Budapest, 1991) lives and works in Vienna. Her practice addresses the representability of political struggles from a queer and feminist perspective. In doing so, she strives to rethink their portrayal through overwritings, re-performances and contextualized quotations.