The bottom of the sea, once viewed as an impenetrable mystery, has become what many now describe as the final frontier of an overpopulated world increasingly reliant on electronics. Even as hundreds of thousands of miles of privately owned submarine internet cables snake unseen across the globe, the seabed is being mapped and apportioned for countries and companies to mine rare minerals, despite the environmental impact, for powering electric cars. Taking such themes as points of departure, Ánima Correa’s solo show here considers the relationships between marine animals, factitious infrastructure, and aspects of her personal history to examine larger social and anthropogenic issues related to technology, surveillance, and undersea exploration.
Three sculptures inspired by tech conglomerates’ seafloor internet cables, Repeater 01, Repeater 02, and Repeater 03, all 2023, extend from wall to wall, crisscrossing the center of the gallery and forcing viewers to navigate around them. Wrapped with electrical cords, seaweed, and circuit boards, their slick surfaces appear wet and shiny, as though just fished from the water. This trio of pieces gives palpable form to invisible networks, placing in plain sight what normally would be submerged.
Similarly confrontational, ten small paintings of cephalopod eyes convey eerie feelings of being watched. According to the press release, part of the impetus for this series, titled “Espejitxs” (Little Mirrors), 2021–, was the artist’s recognition of esoteric connections between her father’s emigration from Chile, migrations of the Humboldt squid that he studies as a biophysicist, and the similarities between the creature’s nerve-cell impulses and fiber-optic cables. If Correa’s sculptures dredge up what would otherwise remain unseen, these paintings celebrate the protective power of camouflage. Executed in oil and modeling paste on linen, they sport varying high-key palettes, referencing chromatophores allowing the squid to blend into their environments by dynamically changing color. Inside each eye is a glowing motif evoking man-made technologies of surveillance and control, such as a camera lens in Espejito VIII: Interruptór (Little Mirror VIII: Switch), or a police vehicle’s light bar in Espejito IX: Gritting My Teeth, both 2023. Encrusted textures surround the smoothly painted ocular interior, further making them seem like portals into other worlds. All these fantastical devices add up to a sci-fi effect, as though the animals were bionic hybrids returning our gaze in silent reflection on humanity’s deleterious activities.