Elena del Rivero
ESP (1952). Lives and works in New York.
. . . Y tan alta vida espero . . . (after Santa Teresa de Jesús), 2014
Installation on the windows of the Inquisition Museum’s courtyard, Cartagena
Various media: pearls, needles, thread, pins
Nu descendant un escalier and returning, as well, 2002–2013
Elena del Rivero’s work is spread across various media—drawing, painting, photography, performance, and video. Her signature is the use of alternatives to traditional drawing tools such as thread and needle, as well as the written word. Her meditations on time, intimacy, and femininity are frequent in her work, although always built more around a question than an assertion.
. . . Y tan alta vida espero . . . (after Santa Teresa de Jesús) is a piece specially made for the Cartagena Biennial in which the artist uses the grilled windows of Cartagena’s Palace of the Inquisition to recreate the railings of the convents in southern Spain, such as those in Seville, as well as the window bars of homes from behind which sixteenth century women could chat with passersby and be courted by their lovers without stepping over the line. Across the museum’s railings we can observe an arrangement of needles, pins, and pearls. The brutality of the inquisition machinery exhibited in the museum, product of the desire to control and dominate, is contrasted with the domestic project of embroidery.
Also exhibited is her video Nu descendant un escalier and returning, as well, recorded during her exodus from her studio-home, severely damaged by the 9/11 attacks. This is part of a series of performances around the theme of a nude descending stairs. Here the nude hides her face behind a mask, representing a global nude, homeless and alone.