Dimensions and designs variables, (2002-present)
Collaboration between Máximo González & Iván Buenader
Moving and living installation
“Heritage” is an installation of donated plates. All are welcome: plates of different styles, shapes, colors, sizes, times; food, dessert, coffee, decoration plates; made of glass, porcelain, metal, clay, plastic; old, new, well-worn; those plates that one is ashamed of or those that are never enough for all the guests; also those so beautiful that are never used because one is afraid of breaking them.
The installation began with a family legacy, then it received the contribution of friends and acquaintances, afterwards the contribution of people that we did not know. In this way it has been expanding for many years. It has been exhibited in cities like Prague, Montevideo, Careyes, Aguascalientes, Bombay, Guadalajara, and many spaces in Mexico City. Nowadays it has more than 2,500 plates.
“Heritage” is an exercise of transfer: dettaching from things without the disappearance of its spirit, allowing treasures to change hands and witnessesing or being the subject of a transformation.
As a starting point, besides motivating the participants to donate a plate, our call seeks to answer technical questions like “which plates can be part of this installation?” Secondly, people want to know “what is to be done afterwards with so many plates? Where are they kept?” It is a worry that, in some way, talks about future: what will happen with ‘this’ when I won’t be here; what will happen with my plate when I cannot see it anymore. Then more formal or esthetic concerns appear, like “is the installation always the same?” Of course not: the ductility that a work of this type has, allows it to adapt to each space just like it adapts to the change of mind, of mood, and new thoughts.
We like thinking about “Heritage” as an installation of different sculptures, not only in shape, material, color, size, origin, but also a reunion of sculptures defined by its precedents: each plate is a sculpture of histories. People that hand a plate over to us personally, tell us something about it and we register it to increase the scope of the work in the future. The stories of each plate (and I talk in plural on purpose) are composed of that one narrated by its donor, just like for those that the spectators remember. Somebody standing in front of a clay plate remembers some on which his grandmother used to serve turkey with gravy. A lady looks at a plastic plate with a cartoon and remembers that one with which she sent her son to school with the lunch box. A couple contemplates a flowery porcelain with golden edges and recalls the opening of an antique box with their first dinner service, a wedding present. Although each one of us thinks differently, the feelings that join us come from the plate more than the table: not all cultures eat on a table, but all do use some kind of container (individual or shared) from which food is taken. The plate operates as a symbol of our ancestors, who brought us up during childhood and as adults we repeat in the gesture of sharing food with affection.
As if sculpting emotions wasn’t enough, caused by the great installation just like by the individual objects, the action is completed when each donor receives by mail post a photo print of the resulting plates installation. The person has physically gotten rid off of an object (or more) that is replaced by an objectified memory through a portrait. In the photograph, the donor looks for his / her own piece, and in the exercise incorporates other people’s, that catalyze a new whole: the photograph of “Heritage” finishes sculpting the memory of the meeting, reaffirms the person’s feeling of having joined a new community.
In the middle of this process (the call, the planning, the collection, the conceptual and esthetic decision, the documentation, the appreciation) new questions arise, born from the process or from the curiosity transmitted to us by the spectator. “Why are the plates placed on the floor?” To be in contact with the Earth, like our roots. “What happens if the plates are broken?” They continue being used. “Are they pasted? Or are they placed broken?” It depends: each plate is one of a kind and it has been broken in a different manner; its breaking can be seen as a rising sun or a farewell without return. “The plates used are always the same?” Even the plates that we know, with the passing of time are seen differently by us. The ones that seemed to be big, they don’t seem to be anymore. The most beautiful ones are not the ones that we like most anymore. The weaker ones show signs of having become discolored by the overexposure to light and time. And the plate that seemed to be so humble has already traversed ten thousand miles by land, air and sea; it has another nature: although it hasn’t changed physically, we perceive it differently.
“Heritage” is a living installation, that’s why it expands, mutates and develops. And if sometimes the economic possibilities of moving it are limited to a budget, and a fraction travels and the other stays, although its shape seems to be divided, the spirit remains vigorous. It doesn’t matter how many “Heritage’s” have been made, if the call was by word of mouth between our friends in the time online social networks did not exist or it has been promoted by an institution, “Heritage” has a unique sculptural spirit: no matter the shape it adopted, in which stage or location was bigger, which one arrived further or which one is more photogenic. It is an installation which spirit is sculpted, gradually, in the memory of all those that have approached.