“The ways in which our bodies find stability within physical limits, but strive to overcome those limits is an important paradox in my work,” says Ana Belén Cantoni, while wrapped up in some of the snaking strings that compose her work-in-progress Pink and Black. “Though you know what this piece really makes me think of?” she adds, struggling a bit to free herself. “A techno CD!” I spoke with the funny, prolific Colombian visual artist in her airy Leighton Artists’ Colony studio, where she had a five-week residency through a Colombian Ministry of Culture scholarship.
“There’s an idea I’m trying to express with Pink and Black, but it’s also a game, it’s a challenge. It’s like – what if I can create my own universe, with its own rules? But these rules are always in tension with actual nature – with the nature of the material, or the rules of geometry, for example.”
Another tension within Cantoni’s work is her conflicted relationship with art theory. In the midst of a thoughtful response to one of my questions, she interrupts herself to say, “though you might hear me using theory to explain my work, sometimes I want to resist it. I want the work to offer an experience, not an argument.”
She also tends to resist traditional sculptural approaches, drawing on disciplines in which she has no formal training, like geometry and sewing. This can inspire a certain technical inventiveness: “With Hands, I traced my hand on a bed sheet. In creating Pink and Black I also used my body. As well as addressing a bodily theme in my work, I rely on my own body for measurement!”