Raúl de Nieves
Fina Fantasy, 2019
Vintage military suit, sequins, metal bells, threads, glue, cardboard, plastic beads, tape, trims, mannequin
Courtesy of Jeffrey Lee
In ancient Mesopotamian cultures, the ziggurat is a pyramid-like structure that connects earth-bound humans to gods in the celestial realm. In the Olmec and Mexica cultures of ancient Mexica, the glassy black volcanic stone obsidian was used as a mirror to create a spiritual portal to connect with ancestors. De Nieves’s version of the ziggurat is covered in black glass, evoking the material qualities of obsidian. The installation Fina is named for his mother and similarly melds the spiritual with the material. Each of the figures stands in and is named for a personality trait, representing various opportunities for personal expansion. The elaborate and intricate costumes can also be removed from the mannequin forms and worn by a performer. In the video Somos Monstros projected behind the ziggurat, the costumes can be seen in a performance, moving in space on human forms. Whether worn or displayed on the pyramidal structure, the Fina series plumbs the distance between embodying the characteristics of Vision, Beauty, Fantasy, Sound, Guardian, Mystery, Nurture, and Joyous as internal qualities as well as being able to recognize them as exterior phenomena.
–Risa Puleo, Curator