Inspired by ‘The Butterfly’s Evil Spell’ (1920), Federico Garcia Lorca’s first ever play, Sierra Hyte’s ‘Honey Week’ is an invitation to participate in an almost theatrical setting in which humans, animals and creatures alike are welcome to partake of the space.
The exhibition is set in Cordova, an old butchers’ shop now converted to a curatorial project space, located in Sants, a working-class neighbourhood in the southern part of Barcelona. Best known as a residential hub for the elderly, new emerging spaces such as Cordova are another example of the cultural appropriation of neighbourhoods set in the outcast of formal artistic practice. Though this might seem decontextualised, the possibility of interaction with a non-informed art audience (casual viewers are school kids or curious pedestrians) is what makes this space so exceptional.
I was lucky enough to see the exhibition a few days after the opening and as per Hyte’s instructions, the gallery should not be cleaned. Footprints marked the dusted-clay floor for her piece ‘I change you with weather’ (2018), embodying a metamorphic presence of the human bodies that might have been there before me. A tessellation of objects comprising Vaseline and snakeskin were also scattered throughout the floor, both evoking sensual and aversion sensations alike. The viewer is then confused into a subtle playground where the desire to touch and feel is as tempting as to mark a footprint in the ground.
A performative element is also present in ‘You are your own evidence’ (2018), an instructional text written by the artist that is meant to call attention to the physical presence and embodiment of the reader. Printed in a blue pigment that responds to touch, it is yet another poignant reminder of how the ordinary actions that the body performs are worthy enough of our fascination.
In an affirmation of Hyte’s commitment to be animal inclusive, foliage hanging from the ceiling responds to the presence of other creatures. ‘Taste of Red’ (2017) is a piece constructed of red fruit, flowers and coke bottles refilled with red sugar water that functions as a hummingbird feeder – they prefer red over any other colour. Therefore, to ensure animals can access the piece, the gallery’s windows and doors will be kept open during open hours. Perhaps not only hummingbirds but hopefully other species will be as enraptured by Hyte’s work as Lorca’s insect was when it read a book of poems abandoned on the grass by one of the few poets that visited the countryside.
In the same vein as ‘The Butterfly’s Evil Spell’, this exhibition offers cause for reflection, allowing us to empathise with non-human bodies as much as it strives to enlighten us towards our own phenomenology. The contextual depth and seductive appearance of ‘Honey Week’ makes one envision a space in which multiple conditions of corporeality coexist and embrace one another as do the butterfly and beetle lovers in ‘The Butterfly’s Evil Spell’.