Naury Joaquin Art Statement

 Nostalgia, decadence, eroticism, feminism and utopia are some of the elements that inform my art works. They create a symbolic and allegorical scenario in which two worlds collide: The search for the past, a kind of incomplete mourning and bittersweet longing, in tandem with the question of transformation through passing time. According to the Seventeenth-century Swiss physician Johannes Hofer, who first used the term in his “Medical Dissertation on Nostalgia” (1688), nostalgia represents homesickness. The word nostalgia is derived from the Greek nests (to return home) and algia (a painful condition). Hofer classified it as a medical category of excessive homesickness among Swiss mercenaries fighting far from their homeland. The word later changed from its original military and medical connotations, to a more philosophical and psychological meaning, and eventually to its popular and commercial usage today. Emmanuel Kant, in 1798, suggested that nostalgia “does not necessarily lessen if one is Jiving in one’s native land because it represents the desire to recapture lost youth, a place of no retum.”(Behind door closed: The art Hans Bellmer by Therese Linchtensein) This nostalgic childhood like atmosphere present in my art work, is surrounded by a disturbing and intriguing world in constant change and transformation. Infant-images appear always in metamorphosis. Sometimes the mutation is regressive, and fragmentation and multiplication are part of the construction process in which mutilated arms and heads often appear. In these moments my work becomes layered with multifaceted echoes surrounded by a sinister Romanticism. At other times the mutation is prolific and new forms emerge: a doll’s torso “gives birth” to a second, the second, in turn, bears a third, in a constantly ongoing movement like “The cycle of Ouroboros” In psychoanalytic theory, the question of child perversion appears in relation to behavior like cutting and interrupting or symbolic deaths and tensions that the child develops in relation to objects within his/her environment. In the concept of polarity developed by Carl Jung, the child perversion embodies a somber hidden self hood, present in feelings, emotions and thoughts that form a totality in all beings.(Polyester magazine, 05 June 2000 ) In the prototypical children narrative, the fairy tale, shadows and evil appear as fundamental elements of child development and individuation through their ability to articulate polarities.Historically, from its origins, the fairytale was amoral and analyzed class struggles and competition for power, presenting a harsh reality of misery, injustice and exploitation. Cannibalistic acts, favoritism of the first born, the sale of kidnapped brides, as well as humans turning into plants and animals, were all part of the beliefs and the reality of many primitive societies. I find these origins fascinating and therefore I often use mythology and fairy tales as source of inspiration. I am really seduced by the way that ancient fairytales capture and expose our primary instincts and feelings through the apparent tenderness of childhood

 Doll as main Subject.

 My main subjects are dolls or pupas set in that nostalgic surreal ambient atmosphere described above. Dolls are arguably humankind’s oldest toys. They have been discovered in children graves of ancient Egypt, Greece and the early Christian catacombs, as well as in Aztec ruins. Although they may differ widely in form and fiber, they are representatives, often in absurd approximation, of the human form. Of course, while they belong primarily to the socialized domain of girls, they are not exclusive to either sex. Dolls have no will or purpose, beyond receiving the caresses and spankings of their pint-sized proprietors. Perhaps dolls have been created and elected as special playthings consistently throughout history precisely because they straddle the dual realms of human and not human.

(Polyester Magazine June 03, 2000)

 A clue to the longevity of dolls as coveted objects, may be found in the psychoanalytic theory of “transitional-objects”, special objects that assist the child in the transition from being inextricably connected to their mother’s body, to recognition of her/himself as distinct from the mother. As a child attempts to manipulate dolls (both lovingly and violently.,.)she/he finds them malleable and unencumbered by any utilitarian function.


 Pupa, the encyclopedic meaning of which is the “The non-feeding stage between larva ; and adult butterflies insects, during which the larva typically undergoes complete transformation inside a protective cocoon or hardened case” originally meant “doll” or “girl”, particularly one near to transformation (puberty), in Latin.

(Oxford English dictionary)

 Thus my intention is to establish an analogy, or a pun, by combining both linguistic roots of the word, using one of them as reference and the other as a meaning (significant-signifikat-Referent, significant, meaning or reference.)

Ferdinand de Saussure, (The Ideological Octopus: An Exploration of Television and It’s Audience (Studies in Culture | and Communication Series by Justin Lewis)For instance, one of the pieces exhibited during my thesis show (one with multiple subjects hanging from the ceiling) entitled “Pupa in their red delay”, is a good example of this signification. The dolls resemble a group of Pupae or larvae in their typical cocoons during their metamorphosis. It is the significant or physical aspect – in reality they are pupas or dolls, and not insect larvae.Actually the signifikat (or real meaning) is that the cocoons are covers for Stockings socks: the ultimate feminine icon. As pupae (insect larvae/prepubescent girls) they are suspended in mid-air; waiting to become… waiting for a transformation…

As I mentioned earlier, two forces command my artwork: progressiveness and regressiveness. A good example of this is the tension between “Pupas in their red delay”, mentioned above, and “La Pupae”, also exhibited at my thesis show (a piece with the sky above it). While in “Pupa in their red delay” there is a suspended energy, a pause, a waiting for something, a progressive energy oriented to the future – in “La pupae” the doll here is in full blossom, an explosion of butterflies come out of her body settling themselves into a decaying ‘house’. Here the doll sees the viewer from her decadent past and her artificial and flushed position as a once-glamorous but now extinguished idol; here the archetypal energy is regressive because it is based in a nostalgic time, already vanished; she gives the viewer her last wistful breath. The conceptual antagonism between these pieces and at the same time the complement of each one, is one of my fundamental beliefs as an artist: I seek to articulate the interplay-between life and death, creation and destruction…between birth and re-birth.


Finally, I will say that dolls also signify for me a desire to return to the past through memories that would revitalize the energy and experience of wonder. Standing solidly as material evidence against mythical constructions of childhood as a time of innocence, hope, and happiness, the doll offers a complex version