The Butterfly Effect is a 20 minute performance piece by Mexican artist Maria Ezcurra and Canadian artist Scott Macleaod. It features a stage where two white long transparent cocoon structures hang from the top of the ceiling to the floor. Inside one of the them, stands a girl who dances, touching the walls of the cocoon, while another person (played by Ezcurra herself) enters the scene and stands besides a hanger, where she begins to cut off pieces of her winter coat. At the same time a series of animated drawings showing the caterpillar to butterfly process are projected on a big screen behind them. The performance gets to an end when the girl is finally on the floor and able to leave the cocoon, as Maria takes off the fur part of the coat and places it on the hanger simulating the silhouette of the butterfly wings. They both leave the stage after they wave goodbye.
Monarch Butterflies go through different stages during their lives, and through several generations in one year: egg, larva caterpillar and finally a butterfly. This process also develops during a long journey which begins in Canada, and ends in the woods of Mexico. Taking this experience as a metaphor, Ezcurra and Macleod, approach the idea of migration and the changes one has to accomplish in order to adapt to new circumstances. In a way, it is a poetical visual resource to talk about the issues that occur in our present living, such as global warming, and economical and social crisis, for example. These phenomena have brought out migration of different groups of people in order to establish in a more adequate environment that would allow them to survive and grow. As a result not only the places where they arrive modify, but the homelands left behind will transform as well, and so a sort of Butterfly Effect occurs.
In her work, Ezcurra often uses clothing as a way to speak about the relation woman has with her belongings, the way they help to build our own identity, and how they affect our interaction towards other people inside a certain context. In this case, clothing is not only shown as a vest but as a shield, somehow a cocoon embraces the idea of a container of something precious, life itself. The Butterfly Effect explores the idea of femininity as something ethereal as well, an essence that inhabits a being, and accompanies it through life beyond the physical aspect; clothing or skin that changes during time.
Butterfly appears as a representation of beauty, as something that comes with experience. In order to reach beauty, the caterpillar has to change, evolve, and this is only possible through a journey. As we might experience it in real life, cinema and photography or read in literature, the romantic essence of a journey resides in its spontaneous development. Hazard, accidents, make the journey an unrepeatable experience, that often embraces risk. Butterfly, in its very delicate and fragile structure, not only confronts the strong impact on weather conditions, but the threat of urbanization that constantly pushes it into the edge between life and death. The butterfly, as provably an element that alludes to something ethereal, in a way, also reminds to this idea.
The art critic and historian Ana Maria Guasch, in a lecture set on 2010 in Mexico, mentioned the importance of education not only in the field of art history or critique, but for art creation itself; artists since the birth of Conceptual Art have been searching for ways to finally reach the stage of dematerialization, through which art would transcend beyond the formal object. In order to approach this dematerialization, Joseph Beuys, within his pedagogic activity, developed the concept of the Social Sculpture, in which art is seen as a social catalyzer and agent of change. He remarked the importance of the artist as a guide and art as a vehicle to transform society and bring out new ideas that will produce changes in the future.
In this sense, both artists, Ezcurra and Macleod, being both active teachers are conscious of the importance of art as a form to speak about different issues, that can be easily be translated as educational media. As Macleod, in his own words has expressed “Art has made me humble, it has fed and sheltered me, given me a voice, and enabled me to do the same for others, through mentoring and outreach work. And as a result of this work I have better understood humanity’s place on this planet and have tried to be a positive influence for political and social change.” The Butterfly Effect alludes to the revolutionary position of art in life, as a metaphor to speak how an artistic process may have an influence in the viewer, reminding he or she that life, survival, and death will be a frequent question for Art.
The Butterfly Effect, Montreal, Canada, 2011.
A performance created by Maria Ezcurra, www.mariaezcurra.com
and G.Scott MacLeod, www.macleod9.com.
Performed by Maria Ezcurra and Tatiana Koroleva.
Animation by G. Scott MacLeod.