Sumie García Hirata: Moving Narrative
by Andrea García Cuevas
August 10, 2015
"Memory is a place", digital print on cotton paper, 2015.
"You should not be here l", digital print on cotton paper, 2015.
"You should not be here lll", digital print on cotton paper, 2015.
"Memory Corruption II", digital chromogenic print intervened with thread, 2014.
"Bestiario", digital print on cotton paper, 2014.
In his article "The cinema is the epiphany of the Motion Picture" (2013), Román Gubern, a Spaniard theoretical, explains why the cinema is the main projection of motion. One key aspect: its relationship with painting and literature, two static arts until narrative converges in them. While the image on the screen is associated mainly with movement, it is also suggested as being narrative and conceptual, as reflected in the work of Sumie García Hirata.
In the caves of Paleolithic, succession in time during a scene is suggested with the repetition of one element, in the work of this Mexican artist it is given through three key aspects that go beyond the animated representation: medium, narrative and memory. Although García Hirata studied fine arts focused on film directing, she has explored different mediums enriching her artistic language. Video, photography, installation and even gifs are the main supports that have allowed her to play with a space-time shift.
"Each and every medium I use allows me to manipulate the perception of time in a specific way. One of the main themes in my work is the way in which time and memory can manipulate our perception of life and form our identity. Each medium breaks time in its own way:  video unifies it and creates a narrative, photography freezes it, and gif turns it into an endless small loop. The installations, however, become a very immersive environment where time and space are compressed or suspended. "
It is precisely her training in cinema what has approached her to narrative, a key theme in each of her projects and the various mediums she uses allow her the possibility to exploit it: "I like to think that my artistic practice is dynamic. I'm always mixing my work in documentary film with the concepts that I incorporate in photography, gif, video, and vice versa. " Memory Corruption (2014) is a series of impressions intervened with cuts and thread to simulate digital glitches of corrupted files. A subtle images´ fragmentation, which seems to transcend the conventional frame of the photograph, changes the piece into a fragment of an event with a before and an after. Also, there is an overlap of time and space to the viewer which is presented as an incomplete story.
According to the artist, the narrative in this series as in most of her work is a suggestive and subtle gesture: "It is only the beginning or a glimpsed story which is not drawn completely. I seek to evoke a sense of mystery in which the narrative elements are not defined but they can be sensed". In this way, the visual composition suggests a succession which at the same time is reinforced by the reading of the beholder.
In this series, the narrative is also reflected in the concept of memory, which by definition is a statement of facts from the past, run from the present. This is another nexus between a moving image that transcends the margins of the picture or the screen. This is how in Memory Corruption I, II and III there is a breakdown and deconstruction of memory. "Memory is never something solid. Whenever we remember a moment, it appears as we thought about it for the first time. We never recall the original moment. Colors and dimensions change, the words are distorted. Trying to freeze a moment or memory is pointing to the ephemeral and the possible falsification of that time".
In this game, an intimate aspect turns the image into a familiar one. A correspondance is unfolded, promoting the construction of meaning and thus the representation in the work. It is an intention that Sumie García Hirata reflects in her process: "I seek to have a rigorous practice repeating and practicing a lot what I do to be able to approach a conceptual aesthetic ideal which I want to achieve. Although this ideal changes and evolves, there is always something unattainable to improve".