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BURIED TILL SPRING december 18, 2008 - january 24, 2009
  • Traveler 45 at Night

    Traveler 45 at Night, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA

  • Traveler 52 at Night

    Traveler 52 at Night, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA

  • Traveler 58

    Traveler 58, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA

  • Traveler 62

    Traveler 62, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA

  • Traveler 88 at Night

    Traveler 88 at Night, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA

  • Traveler 94 at Night

    Traveler 94 at Night, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA

  • Traveler 95 at Night

    Traveler 95 at Night, 2003

    C-Print on dibond and plexiglass, 89 x 108 cm. 5+PA


Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz represent situations that suggest stories, utilizing a symbolic and visual language that refers to children tales. Their objective is to denounce events within our close surrounding, yet having a universal reach. Their Travellers and Islands evoke archetypes of the human essence through which the harsh reality of life is revealed, emphasized through the scenographic development in hostile natural environments, where we encounter individuals stretched to their limits against the elements of nature, their personal circumstances, emotional and chronologic, against their own ghosts, or against the group, hence the evident emotional tension.

Bruno Bettelheim, against the current opposition to children tales, claimed its role as a source of “value criteria”, performing an irreplaceable role in the emotional education of children and youth of all cultures and times, yet free of the constraints of Ego and the Personality, always through an allegorical language, mythical and magical, in an amalgam of reality and fantasy, harmonizing the play, the oneiric and the perverse. This, from the Grim Brothers to Andersen, passing through Perrault, Caroll, Swift and Barrie, among others, in addition to all those anonymous who have not surpassed the oral tradition to the crucible of illustrious feathers.

The symbol is defined as the replacement of a word that designates a spiritual concept by another that alludes to a reality perceivable by the senses or concrete. The importance of symbolically conveying a message lies in its own essence, as its use reflects a lack of sensitivity towards communication, making it a powerful tool for the transmission of ideas and not just in the children’s context. According to Wittgenstein – Tractatus - the ideas expressed through the conventional abstract code of the language, verbal or written, will only be understood by those who have reached the same conclusions on their own, arguing that there are things you can "show" but not "say". Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz, convinced of that, replace the abstraction by the symbolic representation, to make us understand the reality of a world governed by lack of communication, by the cruel lack of solidarity, of isolated beings, like their figures amid everlasting snow.

A few years ago they moved from New York to Pennsylvania, near the Appalachians, where they reside most of the year, an area with a long and cold winter season, which renders the icy setting and the frozen palette, while the characters and situations emerge from the big city, children of the horrors and traumas of our time. Travelers is an autobiographical reference to their constant moving - often to Spain, the country of origin of Paloma - also a reference to the resignation of the artists to a comfortable life, opting for permanent roaming, which undoubtedly to Walter has its advantages: "When people stay in one place for too long, they lose their walking shoes." Travel is a means of knowledge of oneself and of others; with distance one acquires perspective and the knowledge of the elements of judgment is enriched, allowing one to reason calmly, deepen and reconsider the scale of values.

Entering the debate between structuralist grammar – Saussure - who argued that language is a social capacity, and generative grammar – Chomsky – where language is an innate human ability, for the former, the pure form emerges from the relationship between meaning and significance. Lacan applies these concepts to psychoanalysis in the sense of the greater importance of the significance where the subject intends a meaning at the conscious level while in reality is referring to another at the unconscious level. Replacing the couch, Buried `till Spring presents a significance to what each one grants a meaning, and nevertheless, announce their own formulations applicable to particular cases that fit into general sketches, both formal and conceptually, regardless of the subsequent interpretation.

The demiurge artist creates parallel universes in which the human condition of a society is mirrored, with its evils and defects, chasing the catharsis that leads it to reflect and regenerate. The repetitive use of the change of scale is surprising, from the Romanesque capitals, even in contemporary creations: The case of Miriam Schapiro, Baltazar Torres or Daniel McDonald, even in fictional characters such as Bill Wechsler, from the novel by Siri Husvedt, What I loved, an artist like Schapiro, constructed doll houses suggesting terrible stories and then invented by the “fleeting sensory material that bombards us at every moment." In the Islamic world, representation at real-scale was a real act of intrusion into the creative power of God, a challenge to divinity; hence the lack of real-scale figures in Islamic art, which was when produced, limited to the miniature.

Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland symbolically recreates aspects of the human condition and subjects that to criticism masked through travels to other dimensions. Swift in his Gulliver’s Travels resorts to the confrontation between sizes. Sharp satire of the self-accommodating societies of their time, as is largely self-accommodating ours. The inhabitants of Lilliput, for some a model of strategies that resisted the dominant model of globalization in the 18th century, very specifically the European colonialism, elevated into a symbol of a new emerging reality, but not all of his contemporaries realized that.

The miniatures of Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz, lilliputians, try to wake us up from lethargy, observed by us, the giant creatures of Brobdingnag, in the end a similar, beings that are weak individually and collectively failing. The tenderness and lyricism of their movements, their gestures, the care with which they have been deposited in the soft snow, says much of how these travelers of life inspire their makers, who seem to understand them and feel at peace with them.


© 2011 Isabel Hurley