Ballroom’s forthcoming exhibition will be a sensory immersion

Photo by Joshua White / Courtesy of the artist, Marciano Art Foundation, and Peres Projects Donna Huanca. Installation view, OBSIDIAN LADDER, Marciano Art Foundation, 2019.

MARFA – Donna Huanca presents a series of new works commissioned by Ballroom Marfa in her exhibition ESPEJO QUEMADA which opens at Ballroom Marfa on June 26. Huanca creates experiential installations that incorporate paintings, sculptures, video, scent and sound.

The profound experiences and memories of Huanca’s first visit to Marfa in 2005 inspired the work in the exhibition. The artworks draw on visual, cultural and mythological cues informed by feminism, decolonialism and the artist’s personal and familial histories, while simultaneously engaging with the biodiversity, geology and dark skies of Far West Texas. The sky was particularly striking for Huanca –– animated with cosmic and extraterrestrial forces while also revealing the natural rhythms of the sun and moon.

ESPEJO QUEMADA, Huanca’s first exhibition since the pandemic, uses mirrors as formal and metaphorical devices to respond to changing conditions. The exhibition title translates to “burnt mirror” in English (purposefully feminized in Spanish, alluding to Huanca’s feminist praxis) and suggests reflections of the current moment, portals to the past and future, and ignitions for combustion and change.

The exhibition will also be Ballroom Marfa’s first indoor exhibition since the pandemic began, and the venue will make the show available by appointment only, welcoming patrons to the courtyard and indoor space to experience Huanca’s work.

The experiences of time, touch and embodiment must all be reconsidered in the shadow of the pandemic, as physical contact and proximity to bodies and objects have been restricted. Artworks too are now mostly encountered digitally. By working with an amalgam of color, texture, sound and scent to enliven the senses, Huanca creates alternative and elongated temporal spaces for contemplation.

Through perceptual transformations, viewers are reminded that the sentient body is a potent source that can receive and deliver knowledge and memories. The artist will also be displaying her first outdoor sculpture, which is made of steel and installed atop an adobe bench covered with light- and temperature-sensitive pigment. The work will respond to not only the climate in Marfa but also the bodies that sit and engage with the sculpture.