Creative experience and dialogue with tradition in Anuntius by Mapi Rivera

Victoria Cirlot

… The philosopher Peter Sloterdijk wondered in his great work Spheres in which level the angel must have spoken with Mary for their immediate acceptance to take place. Mary comes into contact with absolute otherness not only by sight, but by hearing, and the reader-viewer faces the impossible encounter between two different planes of reality, the supernatural and the natural, trying to see / understand what is happening. In a radical way, it is hidden from view: the conception of Mary, the begetting of what can only be understood as the greatest mystery of the relations between supernature and nature: the begetting of God who becomes human. Some eras in the history of European culture devoted great artistic efforts to visualize this history. Among these, the one that extends from the beginning of the fourteenth century to the middle of the sixteenth century in Italy, seems to constitute one of the most fertile in the plastic elaboration of the Annunciation, mainly due to the solutions that it was providing to understand the invasion of the sacred in the profane world.

I choose this period of intense recreation of the subject as a counterpoint to Mapi Rivera's artwork entitled Anuntius,in which the canvas has been replaced by neutral backgrounds before which two naked bodies of women are placed, -one of them is the artist herself- , and some other elements such as the lily flowers, which are decidedly intended to place the photographed scenes within the iconographic tradition of the Annunciation. Mapi Rivera's work displayed in a set of photos, light boxes and videos, uses an artistic language close to that of, for example, a Bill Viola, showing the same demand as the American artist to offer new images that, however, they are in clear dialogue with the painting of the thirteenth and quattrocento. The intensity of Mapi Rivera's images derives from the inner experience that nourishes them, as also manifested in the accompanying texts; an experience that has encouraged its creative process at least since 2001, and that can be defined as an "experience of light." In Anuntius,a work already prefigured in some way in her 2004 exhibition entitled Ilaluzes, such an experience crystallizes in the encounter with the Body of Light, an expression that suggests the Platonic Sufi mysticism ...