Artist: Pepe Espaliú (1956-1993)
Condensed Biography: Painter, sculptor, illustrator and writer, developed a coherent body of work questioning identity and mortality. His work is informed by the experience of living with AIDS, which caused his death and which he boldly accepted on an artistic level.
Location: lived in Madrid and Córdoba, Spain
Artwork#1: Carrying (1992)
Genre: public intervention, performance
Description: This is a title of a series of works made by Espaliú in the last two years of his life when he was dying of AIDS. The title embodies the notion of ‘carrying’ in the sense of transmission of a virus between bodies as well as in the sense of ideas, of feelings, of care. A line of people split into pairs and then crossed their arms, grasping their partners’ wrists to form a kind of seat. Espaliú, barefoot, was held suspended between each couple, his arms round their shoulders, as he was passed along the human chain without ever touching the ground.
Quote: ‘…nowadays physicians tell us that the only way is to learn to live with the disease. I think that first and more difficult is to change our attitude towards the social… [which] aims to transform individuals into islands related to one another by hierarchies interested in competitivity, protagonism, selfishness. Learning to live with AIDS is, however, to reject this atomisation, to take over ideas like help, solidarity, love or devotion…”
- Pepe Espaliú, Carrying press release, 1992 found in Amelia Jones, Tracey Warr “The Artist’s Body”, Phaidon Press, New York 2006.
bio art (performance) • ira