Jacquelene Cristina Verna is an Argentine-American interdisciplinary artist focusing on the North American separation of death in the 70s and its relationship with the Latin American political turmoil and atrocities of the same time period.
Altar a santos no oficiales
Medium: Floor and Wall Installation: wood, paint, decomposed gravel, sticks, leaves, paper, string, red fabric, casted plastic baby bottle, wooden box, gaucho belts, bottles of water, water, bottle of wine, leather wine holder, leather book mark, picture frame, golden angel, infant argentine soccer jersey
Dimensions: Wood Structure 43" h x 28" w x 32" d; Earth 30" w x 80" l
In connection to the Argentine unofficial saint of Difunta Correa — whose shrines decorate the sides of roads alongside ones dedicated to Gauchito Gil— I developed a functional bottle rotocasted out of plastic referencing 70s-character baby bottles. It is here that travelers place water for the saint’s ongoing thirst, a deceased mother found by gauchos, her child subsisting by her breast. My desire to create a personalized functional object while introducing a folk history through the convergence with a more common one led me to inject this bottle with its own historical connotations.
Projecting the female form, the bottle articulates its use and vitality for a child; figuratively and conceptually standing in for the absent mother. While functioning, the bottle blurs the lines between the ordinary and the hyper object through its altar presentation. The installation plays with interior and exterior space, as well as that of the gallery's; creating a pocket into a divergent history and space for traveling gallery goers. Viewers are invited to activate the space, stand in the dirt, and kneel while being greeted by the smell of the incense.
The piece educates, creates an intimate full body experience, and experiments with interior and exterior interactions. The male and female saints complement each other and bring a level of humanity and relativity. Gauchito Gil converges with other histories as a Robin Hood figure, Difunta Correa as Mary. Allowing the installation to serve as a space for adapting different personal meanings and associations from each participant’s personal experience.
Some people have high susceptibility to advertising and marketing techniques
2018 - 2019
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 30”h x 40”w x 1 1/4”d 32”h x 42”w x 1 3/4”d framed
Some people have high succeptibility to advertising and marketing techniques challenges the idea of bad taste by trying to surpass kitsch, nostalgia, and low art through detailed technical work and the traditional execution of an oil painting. The hyper realistic and gaudy image incorporates a contemporary understanding of common 70s imagery and attempts to take it to the next level. The popular imagery of mushrooms and ceramic lawn gnomes stands to distract from their underlying connections with decay, commercialism, poison, and consumption. Lawn decorations became popularized due to a growing working class culture that wished to display its new wealth and ability to procure unnecessary decorative commodities publicly as a sign of growth and success.
A popular culture was beginning to emerge due to the success of the Golden Age of US capitalism, unifying interests and dictating what was in fashion; meanwhile the US was involved in many atrocities in foreign lands. These factors along with a rise in PTSD, head injuries, and the construction of freeways also led to the uprising of cults, and new unnamed forms of violence such as serial killings. The metaphors in the painting are so overdone that they allow themselves to be read simply a psychedelic landscape.
Dimensions: Gauchito Gil 43” h x 21” w x 16” d Difunta Correa 16”h x 26”w x 13”d
Unofficial saints are figures established by the common public, that the Church does not recognize. Despite their unofficial status saints like Gauchito Gil, Difunta Correa, and San La Muerte are ever popular in Argentina - where they stem from. Their likeness can be found on figurines, shrines, handkerchiefs, and other merchandise having been created by the people for the people and avoiding all copyright. However, outside of their country of origin these figures seize to exist, making it difficult to find any of these reproduced items and losing the cultural significance behind the figures and their features or acquainted symbols.
The title references the Peruvian Pop Achorrado movement as well as the derogatory use of the word pop as being simplified for the public consumption and the literal creation of a saint.
By using parts of a vintage nativity blow mold combined with the casting of my own pieces, I create an object that suggests a religious connection, despite many not knowing who it references. Moments can be found inside the piece exposing its intended use and my own appropriation, such as the molded beard feature that has been altered to appear as Gauchito Gil’s mustache. Suggesting an alternate cultural reality where a region specific saint may dominate the commercial market and be reproduced as decorative capitalist objects. The blow mold process was invented in the 30s, reaching its peak of popularity in the early 60s with the well known pink flamingo lawn decoration. Decorative lawn decorations like gnomes and pink flamingos became part of working class culture in a time were a new class could afford frivolous items. By using a saint associated with the poor and working class, I comment on the double edged issue of cheapened and commercialized religious objects and kitsch.
Heavily inspired by Latin American conceptual artists of the time period, I aim to reference and critique symbols, ideas, and the means of production of the early conceptual movement through varying degrees of difference and separation. With a large part of the Latin American conceptual movement dealing with dematerialization and blurring the lines between the gallery space and outside world; I attempt to create an unconventional gallery space that encompasses a full body experience through experimentation with 360 degree cameras and virtual reality.
In this video, I replicate a shrine to an Argentine folk Saint that remains unrecognized by the Church, submersing the viewer into a space beyond the gallery through Virtual Reality. Oración a Difunta Correa depicts an interpretation of the Argentine unofficial saint Difunta Correa, through an interactive virtual reality space. Employing a long shot and single take, the 360 video transcends space and time through the convergence of space, allowing the viewer to explore and experience the complete surroundings alongside the characters. The film allows viewers to experience the creation of a saint, Deolinda Correa, a deceased mother whose lone child has survived by nursing from her corpse. A gaucho comes across her body and discovers the miracle of her living son. The gaucho later returns to erect a shrine that houses water, functioning to quench her everlasting thirst. The stationary camera and long shot mimic Deolinda’s fallen body and the feeling of helplessness, while allowing the viewer to move independently and discover the scene and miracle, much like the gaucho. The audio and props are minimal, naturalistic, and ambiguous, giving the viewers the liberty to experience and relate to the subjects through their own means.
Medium: Vintage vending machine, used rosaries, medallions, and prayer cards, toy capsules, catholic stickers, anointment oils, and holy water keychains
Dimensions: 56” h x 22” w x 23” d
Religion is able to soothe and provide salvation for those who seek it. However, the ability to atone for one’s sins monetarily rather than through prayer, deed, or sacrifice becomes an issue of long standing moral debate. The vintage vending machine may be activated by its viewers to exchange money for a religious item, with some items serving useful to either quotidian or religious life while others push the boundaries of comfort. Recycled items like prayer cards and medallions show signs of having been used and activated by its previous owners and raise questions of how they came to be collected as well as how they may have served their use in a prior life.
The vending machine does not serve to critique religion itself, but the commercialized religious objects that are often sold for profit and may serve a predatory role to those in need. When does a quotidian object become a religious one? How are everyday objects treated versus that of a religious item? If someone is to believe that an item bares spiritual use to themselves, who is to say they are wrong? By re-contextualizing these objects in a collective format that differs from their intended presentation, I wish to inquire and explore the very nature of these items. Having been raised a-religiously, the notion of having faith, the purpose it may serve, and the impact it may have on one’s life has always been that of a romantic ideal. However, many of the more specific rituals, symbols, references, and beliefs remain foreign to me — despite having always observed their presence in my cultural community.
Que aparezcan con vida, los 30.000 desaparecidos— Madres de Plaza de Mayo
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 18" x 18" x 3/4” 20”h x 20”w x 1 3/4”d framed
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo are an association of women whose children “disappeared” during the military coup in Argentina. They stand outside of the Casa Rosada- Pink House- with their symbolic white handkerchiefs over their heads and remain a presence to this day. Their handkerchiefs and hand-held signs yearn “that the 30,000 disappeared” “appear with life.” Women held an important role in fighting against state terrorism-as pregnant women were often targeted in order for their unborn children to be forcefully taken and raised in right wing Christian families, while men feared repercussion and the loss of their jobs as a result of taking a political stance on the matter.
Due to heightened fear of socialism and communism, the United States of America funded the right-wing parties; ultimately shattering the economy, stability, and progression of a country that continues to deal with the repercussions of terrorism, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile the economic supporter remains unscathed and evades questioning. By placing the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in front of the White House, I redirect the women’s questions and concerns to the government that funded the acts of terrorism against their children; converging histories often thought of as separate in a direct manor. I contextualize the involvement of the US Government by embodying it as the residence of the US President. The color pink represents the national stone of Argentina, while alluding to Argentina’s own executive mansion.
Medium: 5 images of 6,000 inherited silver coins, exterior environment
With over 39% of Californians being Hispanic or Latino and San Diego neighboring the busiest land border in the world, there are still many historical nuances unbeknownst to the common public. Such as the many atrocities Latin America faced in the mid 70s. In fear of socialism, the US helped fund a military coup in Argentina resulting in 30,000 missing individuals. It is not clear on the US’ participation or prior knowledge of the violation of human rights, however the often-omitted funding is irrefutable. Public figures, mothers, and outspoken individuals associated with the left were often kidnapped, drugged, and dumped into Río de la Plata, roughly river of silver or money, during what became known as the Death Flights.
It has historically been women who have championed for explanations regarding what happened to their loved ones, due to male fear of repercussion from their jobs. As an Argentine-American woman I embody the convergence of these histories in a border space, presenting 6,000 inherited silver coins 5 times over, making 30,000. Honoring those lost during the disappearances and the generations that the kidnappings, torture, executions, and forced adoptions continue to affect. The documentation of the risky move of laying out silver coins in a public open space provokes the careless treatment of money and lives, and calls attention to the questions of a nation through a provocative presentation. Monumental in numbers as opposed to size, the installation was ephemeral and unperceived by the common public, much like the history behind it.
Dimensions: 2 6’ h x 4’ w x 4’ d space frames, 1 4’ h x' 4’ w x 4’ d cube & 3’ h x 3’ w x 4’ d infinity cube
Special Thanks To: Gordon Sluder, Michael Fee, Kimberly Heard, Whitney Tsai, Janani Hariharan
Relating to the North American land art movement in the 60s and 70s as well as Latin American geometric, kinetic, op art, and happenings— the Geometric Paracord Happening connects these two hemispheres while converging the then and now. The 3-large scale 3-dimensional quadrilateral forms house more complicated forms within that largely make use of parabolic curves. From these forms, a colorful assortment of paracord cables extend from the structures, allowing guests to interact by forming connections with the paracord between ground stakes. Stakes of varying heights are set up in a radial grid-like fashion, with a simple form already started— encouraging visitors to activate the remaining blank space to their liking— distinguishing which parts are interactive. The outdoor interactive installation requires willing participants, making the completed work exist in whole as an active event rather than a passive display.
Paracord was multipurpose during the Vietnam War, with String Art rising to popularity in the late 60s. While death, kidnappings and torture became a reality for many Latin American countries in the late 60s and early 70s, the United States experienced a separation from death; with people passing away outside of the home —in hospitals, — the rising popularity of cremation and the mass-production of headstones. The Geometric Paracord Happeningpeacefully brings people together to connect and collaborate, while creating site specific art and promoting the interconnectedness of beings. Increasing one's awareness of their relationship with their environment and to each other, while calling back to Lygia Clark's Mandalahappening and the environmental works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The simplicity of the colored paracord allows for projection of philosophical and scientific explorations of the self and universe, through the application of notions of mathematics. Connecting participants with historical contexts, art history, and the environment.
Medium: Seat of car, votive candles, fire, wine corks, wire, Santa Eduviges holy card
In Memorium Sciatica
Medium: Glass case, wood, childhood mirror from 1998, dried flowers, moss, ribbons, clay, human hair, live mealworms, water, potatoes
Dimensions: 12" h x 9" d
Pertaining more closely to personal histories and narratives, In Memorium Sciatica, manifests a time period of physical pain and nerve damage in my life. Once a certified first responder training to become an ocean qualified lifeguard, I experienced the death of a previous active life. As with many lower disk herniations, sciatic pain manifested in my left leg and the pinched nerve left me unable to completely control or move my aching limb; causing severe disassociation. In many ways, this was the death of me, after three years of little progress I learned that my life would never return to absolute normalcy.
In Memorium Sciatica, is a way to embody and establish, in this space in time, the passing of a personal history; while manifesting a visible reminder. Featuring a lumbar spine vertebra fashioned out of my hair, I adopt the historical implications of Victorian mourning hair art. Encased in glass, ephemeral objects decorate the interior, including live mealworms —often used in place of maggots in film— that writhe and embody the feeling of constant discomfort and movement felt by my former self. The insects are unable to escape, while on display, contained with a supply of food and water later to be released as a ceremonious letting go of previous feelings and constraints. By bringing together my own personal history with an established historical trade I am able to commemorate both the time during and after my recovery in the context and space of my body.
Medium: Audio-visual collaboration with Gordon Sluder; digital