ANNOTATIONS ON A SHANGHAI DIARY by Rosina Cazali, Independent curator from Guatemala.
I met Mónica Ferreras years ago in her studio in Santo Domingo. When you come face to face with a work that manages to abstract everything that could signify living on an island, surrounded by the ocean, you know you are in front of something exceptional. Since then, I have followed Mónica’s work and her way of understanding the world. Like a kaleidoscope, her work has multiplied not only in constant opportunities to communicate but in infinite combinations of geometric forms that she fancies to describe as mandalas, constellations and cellular patterns. I follow her quests simply out of curiosity to know until where she will be be taken by these very subtle entities.
Nevertheless, on this occasion, I am allowing myself to write about something less structured and highlight this diary titled Shanghai Diary. Mónica Ferreras completed it during her artist-in-residence program in China between October 7 and December 3, 2016. This work demonstrates Mónica’s particular way of navigating through the world, always bringing her sense of humor. In its pages, the ordinary summons the extraordinary. They are new windows into the temporary quotidian that mixes with the persistence of her own point of view and culture.
To open someone else’s diary is to assume the responsibility of the voyeuristic act. There is a type of obligation when a brief crack is opened to peer into the intimacy of another person. As a principle, the obligation of the observer is not of passing aesthetic judgments but instead of respecting and embracing the creator’s meditative process. The monologue with the paper, the sketch, the accumulated movie ticket stubs, the ink stains, the ideographs, the fears and doubts, the grocery lists, the pending thoughts written on a metro map that don’t deserve the strictness of interpretation but the stream of accompaniment.
The exercise of writing in a diary was associated, in almost an exclusive way and for much too long, with the feminine universe. It is likely that it was the diaries of artists that traced this new dimension of appreciation towards the mundane in their works, where a categorical imperative to represent or say something does not exist. To rephrase the thesis of Italo Calvino, in the diaries of artists, in their calligraphies and gestures, levity is more a value than a defect.
Thanks to the “god of small things,” objects like this diary exist. The visual and verbal references of the artist are registered in sixty pages. The gestures. The adventure of producing a personal iconography without proposing it. Like a palimpsest, these are interspersed through the sacred times of work in progress, the idleness, the meals, the weather, the displacements or illnesses.
Allowing us to enter these microcosms is an extraordinary generosity. Perhaps within this diary exists the best-kept secret of the mystery of her works.
Guatemala, March 2018