cartographies (series)

“The Equator imagined by Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza is neither country nor map, but rather a text that takes over from the one and the other. The text, the artist’s object, is a territory that has been experienced. Written in 1928, the journal Ecuador is a roadmap that deviates between maps, atlases, encyclopedias, albums and dictionaries, simultaneously painted, perforated or cut by the artist with each page carrying a geological layer. “The earth of Ecuador is crumbly. This is why it does sometimes shake, slip, and disintegrate”, wrote Michaux on February 28th, 1928. Retracing Ecuador, the artist transforms the territory of the text into a situation of reading, each artwork opening up hypotheses on a place invented by Michaux, that is in fact a literary territory. […] Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza hosts the body of Michaux like that of an enemy deserving of respect, and then takes over from the poet, seizing the inspirations and expirations, the systoles and diastoles, the switching from prose to verse and vice-versa […] The artist produces an ellipse within an ellipse, digging out of the books the notion of line that her work interrogates. With each artwork the imaginary line is questioned. Each part of the map of Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza renders the dimension of this line increasingly real.”

Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira, Land of ink, lines and words: the Ecuador of Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza, 2017.


untitled (landscape)

2008, HD video (1 min 55)

Fixed shot of a handwritten phrase taken from the book Ecuador, written by Henri Michaux, which reads “l’horizon d’abord disparaît” (“the horizon disappears firstly”). A hand enters the frame and outlines the writing with the tip of a pen, in contact of which the words vanish.

preface to a cartography of an imagined country

2008, installation, 2 video loops (103 min 56), variable dimensions/

Work inspired from my reading of Ecuador, Henri Michaux’s travel diary written in 1928 after a journey to my country of origin. I inversely re-wrote a chapter of the book – that is, from the end to the beginning, from right to left, and from bottom to top. Two cameras filmed my hand simultaneously as I wrote, one in full shot and the other in close-up. This material was later edited backwards, so that the video reveals the impression of a pen withdrawing the ink instead of leaving it on the sheet of paper. Thus, the text disappears while it ‘unwrites’ the words, leaving the pages completely blank.



cartographies 1. the crisis of dimension

2010, HD video (18 min 40)/

An open book lies on a table. The page to the right has no printed text. A hand enters the frame and wanders over the blank page with ink-load ed fingertips. When smudging the page, the ink stamps on the surface and reveals the missing text. This video is part of a series inspired by Henri Michaux’s book Ecuador (1929).

cartographies 2. a terrible wind blows there

2015, HD video (3 min 10)

I recite until getting breathless the poem “Je suis né troué” (“I was born full of holes”), extracted from Henri Michaux’s book Ecuador (1929). The video shows the different attempts to declaim until the end of each stanza without breathing in while exhaling cigarette smoke, restarting each stanza in the same manner. In the montage, the takes of six successive attempts were superimposed so that the profile opens out, multiplies and the voices mount on each other, forming a kind of 6-voice polyphony.

cartographies 3. un nom est un objet à détacher

2016, 12 photos b/w 58 x 87 cm

The words from a chapter of Henri Michaux’s book Ecuador (1929) impregnate my fingertips.



cartographies 4. nausea

2016, video HD (11 min 20)

Fragments of printed pages come out of my mouth, as in an act of regurgitation. Reassembled afterwards on an open book, the fragments reconstitute a missing page of Henri Michaux’ book Ecuador (1929).

cartographies 5. pain destiné au voyageur

2016, 3 color photos 33 x 55 cm

cartografías 6. cordillera

2016, installation, paper, engraved nails, light, 210 x 85 x 85 cm.

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