Donna Huanca: MAGMA SLIT
Donna Huanca, SPRING, 2021, oil, sand on digital print on canvas. Courtesy of Peres Project. Photo: Billie Clarken

Donna Huanca: MAGMA SLIT

Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA - April 2, 2022 - Feb 5, 2023

by Susan Kunimatsu

Donna Huanca is an interdisciplinary artist working across and integrating the disciplines of painting, sculpture, performance, video and sound. Her installations focus on the relationship of the human body to space and identity. Within an installation, Huanca layers different media, painting on performers’ bodies and grouping paintings and sculptures to form sets for performances. Photographs of performers are printed onto canvas and reworked as paintings. These iterations introduce a temporal element into subsequent installations. Huanca’s intense, career-long exploration of the human body has taught her that “everything is temporary.”  

Huanca’s work is a manifestation of her political and social activism, engaging with femme and Indigenous narratives, particularly those of her ancestral Bolivia. Collaborating with models and performers in gallery environments, she works to counteract the objectification of women, to disrupt the male gaze, by both exposing and distorting the female body with paint, latex, textile and sculptural costume pieces.

For this commissioned exhibition, Huanca has created an architectural environment. A stage of interlocking cellular forms is landscaped with white sand and sculptures, six of them mirrored screens. Four mural-size paintings representing the four seasons plus sound and olfactory effects complete the immersive sensory experience. Viewers will see their own reflections integrated into the installation, deepening their engagement with the work. The installation aims to evoke a slippage of space and time, inviting visitors to both find and lose themselves. During the exhibition’s run, the artist and cultural performers of various genres will collaborate on a series of programs in conversation with the exhibition’s themes.

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