Altar a la Risa
Installation view from Mutual Matters, exhibition of the Goldrausch Artists Grant, at Sammlung Haubrok, November 2021
Altar a la Risa (Altar for Laughter, 2021), a tent like temple which comprises over 100 paintings. Visitors are invited to enter the space created by these colourful paintings which is filled with magic objects, pillows, ceramics, fruits, and the smell of pine. The altar, inspired in the tradition of El dia de la Cruz in Granada, is an invitation for self-care. Soft Laughts Eden video was projected onto the textiles inside the installation, showing visions of what the artist calls "inner gardens." With nostalgic humor, the audio of the video guided viewers over the course of an hour through various meditations to help them find their own inner garden, as well as various poems on the metaphorical "south" of the body. The artist invites friends and artists to play with her throughout the process.
Altar a la Risa (Altar of Laughter), Irene Fernández Arcas, 2021. Installation: acrylic, silk and sublimation ink on textiles, wooden structure, 34 ceramics, stones, candles, fruits, flowers, traditional Andalusian copper, apple with scissors (pero cortado), carpet, pillow, rope, pine oil, video, audio, laughter; 2.5 x 2 x 1.4 meters.
Collaborations and collective pieces within the artwork:
Video: Irene Fernández Arcas and Weronika Wro Wrzesińska, Soft Laughs Eden, 2021
Audios: Ryan Sweke, Spirits of the South, 2021, Irene Fernández Arcas, Almas del sur, 2021, Cecilie Gronbeck, Story of a Laughing Goddess, 2021; Federico Forestiero , Lea Hopp, Sandbags, 2021, audio and pillows
Inspiration, help, thanks: Klaudia, Lea, Luna, Julio, Wro, Federico, Cecilie, Lukas, Andi, Ryan, Adrian, Aleix, Softpower.
Fotos: Linus Muellerschoen, Lukas Städler, Sebastian Eagger
Text for Catalogue by Sarah Reva Mohr
On Altar a la risa (Altar of laughter) – sensing collectvity
Do you remember the first time when you were standing in front of an altar? Can you recollect how the offerings lay side by side, how they were decorated on different hights – all elevated from the ground, composing a picture of worship? And then: Which details caught your eye, how close could the „spiritual“ atmosphere get to you while you were busy framing this image with all the unanswered questions running through your mind?
In its origin, the term „altar“ comes from a meaning of „stage“ combined with the act of „adoration“ that leads to its common understanding of a podium to assemble things to sacrifice. But here the idea of mere worship becomes less important – it is rather a mindset, a specific space that creates a fertile ground for transformation. Within „Altar a la risa“ the items – plates and objects, multiply colored, variously shaped and decorated – invite you to join a physical and imaginary space and taking your time, free of judgment.
You might want to address the concept of worship differently, finding yourself in this space for reflection and release – while acknowledging the emotional spectrum that comes with it. The setting resembles the ritual of arranging plates, of gathering, embracing symbols of togetherness. Asking yourself at this moment what a ritual means beyond the act of repetitiveness is to start a dialogue with yourself and your surrounding that shines a light on the awareness of our day-to-day acts and processes and helps to reconstruct a different relation of the „now“. Your now. It’s a reminder to be present – as present as in the act of laughing with your loved ones, a moment where your not overthinking, just following your intuition.
„And really, it’s hard to laugh when the sun of your childhood is no longer shining on your face.“ 1
There’s an unconditionality in laughter, an authenticity that is rare to find. Laughter can be soft, it can be hard – laughing can be shameful but also a relief. Being alone and laughing, feeling strange but self-aware – being in a group and sharing it as a contagious and collective feeling, in all its shades it remains human. Laughter means presence. In the accompanying video work „Soft Laughs Eden“ laughing is not only a healing process, it’s a matter of reconnecting to the lightness of a personal feeling of origin and upbringing, remembering and relearning it again.
1 From Irene Fernández Arcas and Ryan Sweke Spirits of the South, Almas del Sur (2021).
„... and laugh and laugh
and laugh ...“ 2
while taking care of yourself embedded by soothing voices that come with a visual interaction between fire sequences and object animations. Am I this tiny plant spiraling its way up – trying to make sense of its own growth? Am I also longing for warmth and the easiness of collective laughter – seeming so close but also far away, almost like a ghost, carrying my sentiment on its wings?
„And the smiles of your friends are the collective spells which release what’s inside of you. And out of it comes, finally, your laughter and your joy, and you carry it dancing with you ...“ 3
The video is a collection of voices, each one of them like a special item carefully placed on an altar – the Altar a la Risa. Interwoven between the narratives you will find breaks of silence that provide you with time to look around, let your eyes and mind wander. It lays bare a concept of sharing: notions of collective joyfulness and warmth.
If I was asked to select one memory that is the most meaningful to me – I couldn’t choose just one but I’d say the most precious ones are always connected to the lightness of shared laughter because they remind me of the beauty within the fragility of our presence.
2 & 3: From Irene Fernández Arcas and Ryan Sweke Spirits of the South, Almas del Sur (2021).