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Marcela Armas Digs Deep to Connect Two Cultures for the Biennial

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Creating a link from one community to another is a central theme of the 2015 Biennial of the Americas. Visiting artist Marcela Armas wanted to dig deeper into that theme — quite literally. Since her work focuses on the intersection of arts, science and technology, after being invited to crease something for the Biennial, she proposed a project that demonstrates an exchange of land between two cities.

On Sunday, July 12, Armas began phase one of Implant, a project in which she will extract a sample of the earth’s core in Denver and transport it to Mexico City, where it will then be implanted. The process will be replicated with core from Mexico City that will be implanted in Denver. But first, geologists will read the rock samples at Commons Park for clues into Denver’s history on Wednesday, July 15.

“I have been very interested in exploring this concept of ‘linkage’ from the geological perspective,” Armas says. “I’ve always been interested in social and political concerns that are related to the use of energy, exploitation of land, urban development and poverty, and this project encompasses all of that.”

Lauren Wright, artistic director and curator for the Biennial of the Americas, says Armas was commissioned after a search for an artist whose work fit into the broader themes of the Biennial and could connect the two places. “We were given a grant by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation with the aim of creating a direct connection between Mexico and Denver,” Wright says. “This type of work is not something that every artist can achieve, but Marcela really responded in a very material way to that construct.” 
Armas says her approach with Implant will be establishing, exploring and reflecting on the relationship that human beings have established with Earth. “From the starting point of this project, we will encounter two scales of time to keep in mind,” Armas says. “We will need to look at the core from the geological scale of time versus the human scale of time and ask questions like, ‘What’s happened since this rock was deposited? How does this shape how the city was formed?’” 

This question-and-answer process is part of the “language” Armas is looking forward to unearthing during the extraction process. She is curious to hear how different geologists will interpret the same core, for example, and how the public will interact with the installation. “There is this other layer, which is the human approach of transforming this matter from the moment we break ground and then translate it and transform it into data,” she explains.
The reading of the rock samples found in the core will take place at 1 :30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, at Commons Park; where the entire Implant process will be documented and displayed on screens through August 2. For more information about Marcela Armas and Implant, visit her website here.

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