Maria Cosmes. While we were sewing. S/T


While we were sewing reflects very well the subterranean violence behind all relationships, being however a work of extreme delicateness.

By including gloves as a central element in these performances, he introduces a concept of extraordinary strength, the physical representation of the hand: an element of humanisation, of relationship (visible, for example, in the fact of shaking hands or holding hands), closer but, at the same time, endowed with an ambiguity as much or stronger than the strings he previously used. The hands are the human tools par excellence, which allow the human being to create, but they are also instruments of defence or aggression.

The passage from strings to gloves is equivalent to the transition from abstract relationships to more concrete, physical, human-scale relationships. It is, therefore, a different approach to this complex, more sensorial world, in which participants can touch each other, going one step beyond the representation of relationships by forcing participants into direct contact, which in our society is not always comfortable.

But there's not just a relational component to the gloves. They are both containers and protectors, isolating direct skin contact; they are man-made and emphasize our shape. Thus a humanization is introduced, a personalization, without abandoning the infinity of possible evocations, conceptually and plastically. Gloves, in addition to elements of union, constitute a factor of separation.

In her performance While we were sewing (2006-2007), she forms a circle of six volunteers and puts on them pink rubber kitchen gloves. Little by little he sews the gloves together, including his own, as she is also part of the action. With the threads and gloves he weaves a complex web of possible connections and relationships between people. Finally he threads the gloves to the chairs, while the participants withdraw. Thus, at the end of the performance there is a structure formed by the gloves intertwined at the height of the hands of the participants, filling the void that they have left and that still remains after finishing the action.

At Untitled (2006-2007), performance that must be understood as a continuation or complement of the previous one, the threads to join the participants with the gloves are substituted by long nails, in which the participants are placed in more or less uncomfortable positions, nailed to the wall, forming a human chain to which she adds at the end with her own glove, remaining united all of them. It is a union of a violent appearance, but very delicate in its execution. The action ends when the participants finally come out of the gloves of their own free will. Here again an element of chance appears: if they come out abruptly, they tear off the gloves from the wall, if they are removed carefully, they remain nailed to the guise of installation, tracing an imaginary line of dots that marks the path of union between all of them.

A new element appears here, which goes beyond the creation of an ephemeral space while its actions take place, to create a lasting physical space as a result of the action, a tangible physical metaphor of the conceptual process of the realization of the performance, which gives the action a second permanent life in time, beyond the memory of the participants. It is not a question, however, of remains of action, but of independent works, derived from the parallel time and space created by the performance.

In this action, as in much of her work, Maria Cosmes highlights the violence that lies behind every relationship: that which is involved in approaching others and that which presupposes allowing others to approach. Violence that is deaf, contained, neither verbalized nor explicit, but which she treats with exquisite care. Many of the elements in her actions are apparently violent, but behind that aspect is always the will to take care of the participants.

The series of performances with gloves had a second life when they were adapted to carry out educational activities for children, always achieving very interesting results, especially with regard to the children's reflection on the concept of relationship and life in common through play.

While the above-mentioned performances generally involve several people, those that I group together in Between two are designed to be performed by the performer and a volunteer, establishing a relationship of additional intimacy that sometimes reinforces the discomfort and violence that culturally causes us face to face with strangers.

Carlos Pina
Independent curator
director of eBent, international performance festival of Barcelona (2003-2010)
february 2013