The work of Ana María Devis: A saman, a rain tree, stars in her fairy tale.
The photographic scrutiny of the tree symbolizes the renewal of our relationship with nature.
Por: By: Fernando Gómez Echeverri
October 10, 2020, 12:00 p. m.
Ana María Devis's work on the pandemic for EL TIEMPO and the Mambo has a fable and fairy tale undertone. And it has a moral takeaway. After appreciating and experiencing the work, perhaps the tree in front of your building or your house, or the one that brushes the window of your study with its branches, becomes something more than a tree.
Devis left Bogotá when the pandemic broke out. Her mother's country house is located in front of a lake and a beautiful saman or rain tree that, before everything happened, was just a saman. A visual reference as common as a lamp post. But as the days went by, it stopped being a tree: it became the visible home of several iguanas.
Devis stared at the tree's covering, its bark and its irregularities; she thought she saw the tracks of the iguanas on it.
She became obsessed with the tree, with her saman. Every day - as in a previous work with her own hair and her own skin - she began to gather the remains of the tree.
The saman –like the iguanas– also shed its skin. It was renewed, revived. She became one with the tree through her own shadow; she photographed its silhouette at different times of the day. And in a fleeting moment, she also photographed one of the iguanas that, like never before, were visible more clearly than ever.
She began to gather the debris that the tree discarded every day; she gathered the skins of the iguanas. She made a path towards her home with the pieces of bark, following the same route as the tree's shadow. And then the miracle happened: one day, an iguana came down from the tree and walked over that same path towards her house.
“Devis's research always proceeds by induction, from the particular to the general. The artist starts out from her own body and from her footprints and then relates to the natural element. It is this 'organic' approach that unifies her varied 'intermédiale' production (R. Krauss): through drawing or, as in this case, by means of a photographic record, Devis activates a series of relational aspects, of symbolic and symbiotic exchanges among the somatic landscape and the natural landscape”, says Eugenio Viola, Mambo's chief curator.