Amalia Pica

Born in Argentina and based in London, artist Amalia Pica explores metaphor, communication, and civic participation through drawings, sculptures, large-scale photographic prints, live performances, and installations. Pica is interested in the limits and failures of language and in what it means to have a platform to speak out from. Using simple materials such as photocopies, lightbulbs, drinking glasses, beer bottles, bunting, cardboard, and other found materials, she creates work that is formally beautiful and conceptually rigorous while addressing fundamental issues of communication. Raising questions about individual versus collective speech and the translation of thought to action, she examines the role of the artist in conveying messages to audiences. Pica’s work is also optimistic in its reflection of moments of shared experience, often incorporating signifiers of celebration and communal gatherings—found and constructed objects that revel in simple, and sometimes outmoded, technologies. Amalia Pica is the artist’s first major solo museum exhibition in the United States and includes approximately fifteen of her most significant works from the last seven years, in addition to new commissions.

I think that a lot of my work stems from that maybe almost childish desire to be understood and I think that a lot of the ways that we invent to talk to each other have to do with that extreme desire to reach almost like a hundred percent of empathy with other people, that will never happen, but the fact that we try, I think it’s beautiful some how.

I’m very interested in communication, but that’s not how I would have defined it when I first started making these works, that ultimately are about communication, but it’s basically the idea of what the parallel could be between sending a message, let’s say, or making an artwork and how unclear that message is, is the fact we cannot necessarily call it communication. So it means communication is a more useful parallel or metaphor for art making because there will always be this slight misunderstanding.

An example is this Switchboard Pavilion that I am presenting here for the first time at the MCA. The idea of this sort of – walls that connect these cans with strings in random ways so that they seem to invite communication, but they also complicate it by making it not very clear which can the person might be listening or talking into.

There’s this idea about artists who work with ideas that you have the idea and you make it into an object. But there’s a reason why you make it into an object. You are trying to find something out while you make these ideas into an object.

I’m interested in the role that understanding place when looking at an object and how, very often, people just look at something and go "I don’t understand it." But how a lot of people might feel more comfortable looking at art understand that they don’t need to understand it. The concept of miscommunication is a more apt metaphor for art-making than communication itself.

I don’t try to be obscure in my work given that sometimes that just happens, but that is very important to me—like I make work and I think, "What would my mom think of it?"