There is a certain impulse in the pictorial imagery of Moico Yaker that has taken on the function of revisiting founding moments of Peruvian national relevance looked at from a perspective that goes beyond the role of a mere chronicler or observer. However, such emblematic events (brought to the category of modern and secular myths), together with the fascination of the artist with the act of building a painting on a canvas, come through in the represented image without gravity or solemnity, incorporating variants that disturb and subvert the event.
Thereby, the resulting image places us before the possibility of a different nation, rising over the ruins of a grandiose but insufficient order. This portent (or promise) manifests itself in Yaker’s work as a continuous yearning that, maybe, refuses to be postponed. This reading speaks to us of time and memory, where a founding moment is always decisive with respect to the inhabited space.
Just as the myth explains the origin (and argues in favour of ceremony and ritual), Yaker’s work updates the reflection on a vital territory, redefining the limits of an immediately proximal territory: a delimited region where conquerors are divided from the conquered, and where the autonomy of its multiple identities has been vested under a homogeneity that is unsustainable in our time.
This chartered territory is revealed as seen from a particular diaspora, defined by the artist as the “emotional inheritance of the immigrant”, referring to his own heritage (a Jewish family in a province of the southern Peruvian Andes) marked by itinerancy and even exile within one’s own country.
Yaker flies over a battlefield that is recurrent in the course of the consolidation of Latin American states, one that is not geopolitical, but cognitive (even within a single nation). This continuing conflict marks the spiritual boundaries this history has recorded and installed in the present to sustain its authority and organizing function, sustained by that artifice and misnomer we refer to as collective imaginary.
The work he now presents follows that same thematic line, with two pieces articulating a single sense with each of their elements.
In the first, the artist includes an image that recreates the frustrated armistice between the Liberator José de San Martín and the Spanish Viceroy La Serna to prevent a bloody confrontation between the armies under each of their commands: a crucial battle for the suppression of Colonial administration in South America. While one of them appears stating his arguments flanked by his generals, the other is just listening sitting back in an armchair.
The painting emphasizes the theatricality of a paradoxical political event where (just as in contemporary meetings between officials) the results have already been decided before the meeting. In this case, the fight for independence of the territories does not allow for any possible truce and they are attending an impossible effort to conciliate between positions that are already entrenched.
Reiterating the image, on one hand, allows the artist to change the faces in each frame, creating the feeling of “different actors” using the same attire and, on the other hand, gives dynamism to an acrobatic descent of Christ located between them as the only object on the table , who leaves His torment to flee the scene through the window. His departure, abandonment or resurrection condemns those present to fight without salvation. The mountain view in the background also draws near to show the crater as prelude to an eruption.
The endless scene of this particular Descent also appears in an animation also placed by the artist before the eyes of an ideal observer, though in a very different range from that of the other characters.
If there is room for irony in the first work, Status Quo, the other piece in this presentation, recreates two imaginary views that may be placed in the fantasy of the Liberator himself who, unable to achieve anything, would feel in command of an army fighting for an absurdity. Crippled and mutilated soldiers using their prostheses as improvised weapons (as seen in some marginal characters in Bosch or Brueghel engravings) create an acidly humorous image: a uniform ocean of uniformed soldiers, where no-one will be vanquished, covers all of the flat and visible territory of the canvas.
Far from any liberation, the battle and the armistice project a sort of senseless and probably endless farce; an imposture as illusory and delirious as the image of David’s equestrian Napoleon crossing the Andes, implying a triumphant ascent over the distinctive mountain of Machu Picchu: the hidden citadel in an unexplored area near Cuzco meant to be the Incas’ last refuge. A dream with harsh and forced overlays without the closure of a frame, as if hinting at a nameless, unresolved and always missing something.
Lima, February 2007