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Leaves with bioluminescence or cultures of air, art and science by Juan Zamora

“What you are seeing are decellularized leaves. I have removed the plant cellulose and replaced it with a bioluminescent liquid balanced with a certain chemistry to make it stable. The leaves have light of their own. For me, it is like imagining a future with a new species of plant that has light by itself.

This is how the Madrid artist Juan Zamora (1982) presents one of the pieces of life in emergency his first major individual exhibition by the Fundació Sorigué, in Lleida, which can be seen until December 17.

The exhibition by the Madrid artist can be seen at the Fundació Sorigué until December 17

in the work, emerge the light (Future Year), some sunflower and spinach leaves are attached to branches of burned trees on the ground of burned forests in Lleida and Madrid. He has worked with bioluminescent fluid extracted from algae in collaboration with the High Technology Institute of Bergen and the Carlos III Institute of Madrid.

Juan Zamora talks about life, death or love through biology, “from the poetry that art allows and from the analysis that science allows.” His concept of emergency includes the dangerous situation that requires immediate action and that which is born, which emerges.

Juan Zamora at the presentation of the exhibition ‘Life in emergency’, at the Sorigué Foundation in Lleida


He has collected dry leaves from Lleida forming a strip. The light that passes through the holes that the beetles have made on the leaves has helped her to draw musical notes on a paper that sounds in the musical boxes that she has installed, they can be played.

With the collaboration of IRTA pathologists, he has created cultivate the air, a dark space, with pendulums with Petri dishes that contain culture for bacteria and fungi that multiply and divide in pink, golden or almost transparent shades. They are, says Juan Zamora, “literally air crops” from places in Lleida.

Juan Zamora has installed a Big Bang representation. In front, what for him is his most conceptual piece: Amor. It shows two clocks facing each other, somehow weaving time until there comes a moment when the thread tightens and the clocks stop. “The reflex of clocks, he says, has a lot to do with the way cells divide and expand. It is a duplicity of times and distances, which communicate, which expand. The idea of ​​weaving time and collapsing it.”

He has also drawn 109 plants considered endangered in Catalonia on a huge wall. Opposite four already extinct. In the same lonely room, the only species that has reappeared, the spirodela polyrhiza.

In Tierra y agua he shows recordings of the sky projected onto the water of five continents. For him, beyond the trompe l’oeil of water, the most sensory aspect is sound: “one goes for a walk, listening to the different environments and how they communicate with the beings that inhabit those places”.

2In the end, an owl is heard, the sea is heard. And it is made to walk and to think a little about the land”. With a degree in Fine Arts and recognized, among other awards, with the Princess of Girona Arts and Letters Foundation, Juan Zamora has participated in artistic residencies such as ISCP (New York, 2011-2012) or the Royal Academy of Spain (Rome, 2015- 2016).

When presenting the exhibition, the president of Sorigué, Anna Vallés, said that the relationship between the foundation and Juan Zamora dates back to 2009. At ARCO, Sorigué added Blowing a Flower to its collection, which includes works by Antonio López, Bill Viola, Doris Salcedo, or Chiharu Shiota, among other artists.

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