Maria José Arjona

But I am the Tiger

October - November 2013
Former warehouse, Bogota, Colombia

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

This quotation, taken by Jorge Luis Borges’ A New Refutation of Time (1944-46), is the starting point for this new site-specific performance of María José Arjona. Time is a central issue in Borges poetics as well as in Arjona’s work, mainly focused on performance, which is par excellence a time-based form of artistic expression. 

Time, consciousness, and existence are always crucial in Arjona's research. The body interacts with space to create an experience, which bypasses corporeality with cognitive responses. The observer becomes the catalyst of a sensorial exchange, beyond the fluid borders situated between identity and representation. Arjona acts long-durational performances, by which the body becomes an agent for understanding the space-time coordinates, and to address process, memory and power. Arjona conceives art as a tool of transformation; she offers an urgent response to imposed political discourses by creating an energy-based structure, anchored in the body and its capacity for empathy with the other.

María José Arjona performed But I am the tiger every day for one month. The piece, conceived as a long durational work investigate time not concerning endurance, but instead considers it as a physical dimension: a matter of presence in the present time, and in a specific place. The Colombian artist through a series of repetitive, minimal acts plays with the idea of inhabiting the time and space. In But I am the tiger, Arjona plays with the fluidity of time, providing a universe of possibilities for her body simultaneously and enabling the audience to traverse multiple sites and times.