The Impossible Phoenix Ceremony is a ritual of collective mourning and rebirth conceived by Chilean artist Pilar Quinteros to mark the end of her residency at Gasworks. Quinteros works across sculpture, performance and video, using cheap or recycled construction materials that are deliberately delicate and degradable. Her projects often involve interventions in the public space and consider the continual disappearance of what is taken for granted, therefore providing a bridge to imagine unrealised possibilities and unexplored worlds.
During her residency, Quinteros drew inspiration from the architecture of Gasworks’ neighbouring decommissioned gasholders, which feature a repeated ornamental motif of a golden phoenix surrounded by flames. At noon of Sunday 9 December 2018, the artist gathered a small group of invited participants to help carry a 12-meters-long monument from her residency studio at Gasworks to Kennington Park. Entirely made out of light, soft and degradable materials such as foam and hand-sewn fabrics, Pilar Quinteros’ precarious monument made its way in a procession through the streets of Vauxhall, orbiting the site of the gasholders, in remembrance of an unrealised 17th Century design for the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
After this performance at Gasworks, the artist intends to celebrate an Impossible Phoenix Ceremony every year on the 9th of December at noon. Her ultimate goal is for this ritual to be appropriated or re-interpreted by other groups of people, eventually becoming something other than an artwork.
Pilar Quinteros lives and works in Santiago. She gained a Bachelor of Arts from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in 2011. Her recent solo exhibitions include El Faro del Progreso (Beacon of Progress), Gabriela Mistral Contemporary Art Gallery, Santiago; Amigos do Movimento Perpétuo (Friends of Perpetual Movement), Leme Gallery, São Paulo (both 2017); Oopart, Art Space Sagrada Mercancía, Santiago (2016); Cementerio Indio (Indian Cemetery), Sala de Arte CCU, Santiago; and Ephemeral replacement of a previous state, Carlos/Ishikawa, London (2015). Recent group exhibitions include Tremblor (tremor), 13° Bienal de Artes Mediales, Santiago; Building as Ever, California-Pacific Triennial, Orange County Museum of Arts, California; FAV, Festivalde las Artes de Valparaíso (all 2017); and Live Uncertainty, 32nd São Paulo Biennial (2016).
Pilar Quinteros’ residency is supported by Fundación AMA and she is hosted in the Juan Yarur Torres Residency Studio.