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Mariel Carranza, Endurance Test 

Thursday, Dec 18 2003
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Photo by Wild Don Lewis

As part of her installation “Corners,” Mariel Carranza began a nine-day fast last Friday. But this is art, not a David Blaine publicity stunt. She’s restructuring the gallery at Crazy Space (in the 18th Street Arts Complex, where she’ll be on view from noon until 9 p.m. through December 20) with rope harnessing and raw wool — obtained from her hometown in Huancane, Peru — which she’ll use to weave around the corners of the room until her body is confined to the center, like being wrapped (or trapped) in a giant blanket. “Suffering comes from wanting what we don’t have. When you start fasting you go to hell and back, but then after the third day you feel the highest, and everything becomes so beautiful.”

Abstaining from food isn’t just an art concept for Carranza — this will be her fourth nine-day fast this year. After she failed to respond to medication for treating Ménière’s disease, she began fasting as a holistic approach to the inner-ear/equilibrium disorder, and uses it as a tool for cleansing her system.

Not all her work is about the absence of food: She has created a series of odorous “living paintings,” applying blended spinach and raw egg to canvas and letting the decomposition process take the colors and texture into a random evolution. Carranza, a 1989 UCLA grad with an MFA in sculpture, does not consider herself a performance artist, but is drawn to having an exchange with an audience.

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The woven architecture may be grand in scale, but the monotony of constructing it is just as important to the piece. “Knitting is an everyday thing, like the passing of time,” says Carranza. “The repetitive action is very calming, like praying the rosary, going one by one with the beads.”

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