Marla Jacarilla uses media such as writing, performance, video and installations in her work. She constantly searches for links between the visual arts and literature to develop a fragmented narrativity sprinkled with fiction that the spectator is invited to recompose.
She is the winner of several grants, such as the video art scholarship awarded by the Fundación BBVA, the Fundación Guasch Coranty grant and the Bòlit Mentor grant. She received the Best Artist Award in the ART NOU 2012 project and has been resident artist at centres such as La Escocesa, Fabra i Coats Fàbrica de Creació, the Centro de Producciones Artísticas Hangar and Nauestruch, a space for the performance arts.
She has taken part in numerous group shows. Worthy of particular mention are Espècies d’espais (MACBA, Barcelona, 2015), Retrat de l’artista adolescent (Bòlit Centre d’Art Contemporani, Girona, 2014), Fugides. La ficció com a rigor (Fabra i Coats Centre d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona, 2014), The Narrative Condition (Festival Art Souterrain, Montreal, 2013), Biennal d’Art Leandre Cristòfol (Centre d’Art La Panera, Lleida, 2013), Factotum (Fundació Tàpies, Barcelona, 2013), Disruptions (Galería Senda, Barcelona, 2012), Pogo (Arts Santa Mònica, Barcelona, 2012) and Pas de Deux (Private Space Gallery, Barcelona, 2012).
Her recent solo shows include Anotaciones para una eiségesis (Twin Gallery, Madrid, 2015; Centro de Arte de Alcobendas, 2016), Obras (in) completas (EspaiDos, Sala Muncunill, Terrassa, 2014), Intento frustrado de enumeración y explicación de todos aquellos elementos que resultan superfluos en la construcción de una catedral, (Capella de Sant Roc, Valls, 2013) and Acotaciones tras la cuarta pared (La Capella, Barcelona, 2013).
She is editor of the magazine of film criticism and analysis, Contrapicado. She has contributed to art and film publications such as Paesaggio, A* Desk, El Rayo Verde, Apuntes cinematográficos, Cortosfera, Culturaca and Pliego Suelto.
During an interview with Marla Jacarilla some years ago, she brought up the concept of “kipple” with reference to her work. “Kipple” is a word used by Philip K. Dick to describe the useless or obsolete objects that reproduce and accumulate in our lives. It is in the silent ruins of the everyday that kipple manifests itself. In the work of Marla Jacarilla, kipple is a trigger for other possible stories, an excuse to start talking from another place. It is also a narrative strategy that introduces us to events and circumstances that are invisible to this official story that dispenses with the subjectivity of its protagonists. In some cases, it is Marla who draws an indirect relation with them, reaching beyond the self-referring silence of many artists. This happens with Joyce in La prima bastarda de Stephen Dedalus, thanks to the effects of likelihood that give even the most improbable stories an appearance of truth. But just as verisimilitude makes the impossible possible, it can also sow the seed of doubt or scepticism in a story presented as objective and, therefore, unquestionably true. The narrative strategies of fiction are not that different to those of the essay. Ultimately, it is the reader—or the spectator on whom Marla constantly and directly calls—who decides whether or not to sign the tacit agreement on which any fictional pact is based. Not only can we accept as true a story that we know not to be, we can also make judgments about the truth or falsity of their fictional statements.
Another place where Marla’s work leads me is the complex—inevitable—relation between fiction and reality. Once again, Philip K. Dick appears. This time with his famous statement “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”. Maybe here, fiction works as an antidote, when “doesn’t go away” is not entirely satisfactory. Common belief sees fiction as a subordinate of reality, with the former at the orders of the latter and dismissing the high degree of dependency that the real creates with fiction. In Marla’s work, these assumed roles are inverted, with what is considered to be real at the orders of fiction. This occurs in the series Anotaciones en torno a esa serie de características que debería tener—o no—la literatura del futuro and Anotaciones para una eiségesis, where fiction meets the inside story, that hidden—subjective and personal—face of visible history that permanently runs the danger of disappearing if no one rescues it. In fact it is thanks to the constant interlinking of anecdotes that the official story appears in the works of Marla Jacarilla. It is precisely the anecdotes that make us realise, deep down, that we know very little about the famous people we read or continually quote. And that, behind their public image, they are prey to the same fears, passions, encounters and dis-encounters as the rest of us. But, as she often confesses to the spectator—even in the titles—it could all just be a fallacy with a very clear intention: to reveal the mechanisms concealed behind the “simple” fact of telling a story. Like for example when she presents different options for the future development of a past event, generating a Jonbar hinge outside its natural environment, science fiction. Or causing the omniscient narrator—that narrative actor, symbolically male, all-knowing and all-seeing—to doubt, and, in turn, make us doubt and, yet, want more than ever for the stories to have happened just as Marla tells it. Because, to twist a quote by Alfonso Paso about the theatre with which Marla Jacarilla begins her Breve historia subjetiva de la mentira y la representación I, we might also say that “a work of art is not entirely true, or it wouldn’t be a work of art”.
Sonia Fernández Pan