Despacio’s mission is to keep doing what it has been doing for the past decade: consistently exploring new models of artistic and curatorial practice while remaining a driving force in the continued development of Central America’s artistic voice.
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Carlos Fernández was born in 1986 in San José, Costa Rica. He lives and works high in the mountains surrounding the capital city.

Station

ArchivedHappened in March 2017
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Despacio

As if it were an appendix of the mothership, Carlos Fernández docks at Despacio a habitat that encapsulates not only his work, but also himself and even a patch of life where each one of us might find ourselves.

Thoughts
Information

COORDINATES:   9°56′00″N 84°05′00″
OTHER MARKERS:   Avenida Central, Calle 11, San José, Costa Rica
RESOURCES:   canvas, plants, seeds (I), Carlos’s hat (II), soil and chicha (III)
ACTIVATIONS:   pedagogical workshops (IV), funky bar (V), seed exchange (VI), and others, still unknown.

  1. a variety of organic, local seeds for corn, beans, pumpkins, green vegetables, forests, and also many staked plants
  2. hat from the indigenous ngäbe community, with stains from a gallon of paint that fell on it accidentally during one of its many journeys between stations
  3. alcoholic beverage obtained through a process of non-distilled corn fermentation that originated in Central and South America in pre-Columbian times
  4. drawing, botany, and urban crop–design workshops
  5. ludic moments by the heat of chicha, with good friends and music
  6. the seeds come from Carlos’s personal plot, from neighbors’ farms, from urban-agriculture projects in San José, and even from abroad, brought as gifts. The plan is to create a “seed center,” a place where they can be exchanged or given to others to plant, so that their harvests yield seeds that keep nourishing the center, thus paving the way for constant renewal.



This is a real person’s temporary and imaginary work camp. At this station, a series of live elements coexist; they are not the final products but parts of a simmering process. It is also an installation that sustains itself through collective participation and collaboration.

While participating in this experience, the concept of excess provides clues and serves as a common thread: in abundance lies beauty. The plants’ greenness blends with its smells and paintings function as registers of past lessons and future explanations. It is imperative to allow oneself to be enchanted by the layers that coat and recoat every corner—superimposed, hidden information, and the possibility of germination in every square centimeter of the space.

We discover that we can access a fragment of a practice that has long represented not the intermingling of one or two disciplines but rather Carlos’s life itself: his everyday to-and-fro and his passion for agriculture, art, botany, and education. The production of this work represents the search to redefine these practices as well as an act of appropriation.

This station, set at the center of San José, will offer moments for learning, contemplation, and dance. Always in the spirit of exchange—of knowledge and experiences, of seeds and the multiple possibilities between practices that will here appear to overflow and interconnect. There is a subtle but continuous invitation of integration; we are invited to engage in the (self)care inherent to the relationship that we can create with the soil and harvest.

Suddenly, art is life understood through the idea of purpose: of working the soil as if it were a canvas; of generating spaces to share or exhibit beyond the traditional ones. Even of needing to collect and exchange seeds as a reflex of turning the gaze toward the beginning, a gesture that seeks to perpetuate life.

Thoughts by Paula Piedra. Translated by Paula Kupfer.

Carlos Fernández's solo show at Despacio in San José, Costa Rica opens March 23th and runs through April 23th, 2017. (Facebook Event)

The indoor garden that is part of the exhibition will remain throughout 2017 and serve as Despacio’s new central archive.

Cultivating Gardens and Imaginations

Studio visit by Sandino Scheidegger
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Carlos' Studio
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Carlos' Garden

No one had come to see an artist’s performance, one early morning, when attendees shuffled into a community garden to hear an agronomist give a lecture on biodiversity. They sat on wooden benches, busily taking notes, unaware that they were experiencing one of those fascinating moments when art and life become indistinguishable.

Thoughts
Information

Reverberating nature’s constant flux, even within the confines of a single location, artist and agronomist Carlos Fernández illustrates biodiversity on a single large canvas he paints over and over again. While many artists assemble tangible documentation of their performances into thoughtfully designed exhibition-ready artworks, Carlos breaks away from convention by perpetually painting over his own work, rendering it an ephemeral medium. From the anatomy of Yucca roots to the optimal organization of a garden, from cultivation systems to which plants can be used as natural fertilizers—all of this and more has been put to the canvas, with only the most recent subject visible. The rest is hidden under thick layers of paint.

Carlos’ art practice does not disguise itself. It is unique in its ability to create these moments when the border between art and life blurs and any explanation would only detract from experiencing them. Because of this, Carlos avoids discussing his artistic approach in his lectures, especially when his work is being displayed within the context of everyday life. However, the conceptual underpinnings of his lecture performances come best to light on the infrequent occasions when the artist presents his ideas and knowledge in an art setting.

Carlos’ lectures and workshops often extend beyond the garden walls into galleries and museums. In such spaces, he also organizes community driven performances like seed exchanges, where visitors are asked to bring seeds from their plants at home to swap with the artist from his archive of the hundreds of seeds he collected from across the country. Gallery goers who show up with nothing to exchange are still given seeds suitable for their specific home environments, so long as they return a few seeds in a year once the new plants have grown. This is much more than just a kind gesture. It is a vital service that keeps the artist’s archive of seeds up to date.

Regardless of the venue, in Carlos’ world there is no reason to separate art and life. He takes this idea a step further by creating a genuinely credible oeuvre closely connected to the quotidian aspects of life, providing as much guidance for people in the art world as for those outside it. His teachings encourage active participation in society rather than passive observation through the arts.

This close interplay between art and non-art is consistent with the way he conceived of his own creative trajectory: juggling the two professions of artist and agronomist, before finally melding them into one consistent practice, one which connects broader social, ecological, and economical developments, while embodying the medium of lecture-performance, generating both situational and non-situational forms of knowledge.

This kind of practice might never be suitable for the greater public, as it demands that the audience take the time to listen and depends on their ability to give in order to take. These are traits that at times seem as far removed from the arts as Carlos’ aforementioned lecture venue: a public garden so far off the contemporary art map that one must look to the local community to find it.

Text by Sandino Scheidegger

Carlos Fernández was born in 1986 in San José, Costa Rica. He lives and works high in the mountains surrounding the capital city.

Learn more about Fernández on Instagram or Facebook, or contact him by email.

Selected Video Works

ArchivedHappened in November 2015
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Despacio

Over the course of one month, Despacio made way for screening a selection of video artworks by international and Costa Rican artists. The solo-presentation of each video has been accompanied by a culinary event, that became an arena for discussion and exchange.

Thoughts
Information

The program was launched as an open platform for screenings and events on the interface between experimental off-culture and established video artists, as well as artists with almost zero critical history.

Featuring work by

Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker (Panama)
Fischli & Weiss (Switzerland)
Keren Cytter (Israel)
Alejandro Bonilla Rojas (Costa Rica)
Diego Arias Asch (Costa Rica)
Julian Gallese (Costa Rica)
Alejandro Ramírez (Costa Rica)
Carlos Fernández (Costa Rica)
Habacuc (Costa Rica)
Lucía Madriz (Costa Rica)
Marton Robinson (Costa Rica)
Eva & Franco Mattes (Italy)

The screenings took place from Nov 5 until Dec 12, 2015.

Alfredo CeibalSandino ScheideggerStefan BenchoamY.ES ContemporaryLucas ArevaloAbigail ReyesSimón VegaMauricio EsquivelFire TheoryCrack RodriguezErnesto BautistaMauricio KabistanMelissa GuevaraJavier Ramirez NadieDiego FournierMaria José GuevaraAnna HugoBarbara HoffmannZilla LeuteneggerDavid ShrigleyRonan & Erwan BouroullecBeni BischhofThomas RuffMaya HoffmannBen VautierKarl PawekAndreas ZüstMara ZüstPeter WeberSimon LamunièreBernhard LuginbühlSwiss FocusMario SantizoGabriel RodriguezRonald MoránExhibitionUrs SteinerPro HelvetiaEmbajada de SuizaSwen RenaultCentral ArchiveLuca MüllerAdrian MelisSigurdur GudmundssonBethan HuwsHans EijkelboomJulian CharrièreJürgen KrauseJens RischThomas MoorJavier CalvoAnonymous ArtistJay ChungBen LongCamille LaurelliDiego Arias AscheteamFayçal BaghricheFlorence JungIván ArgoteJens SundheimMikko KuorinkiRonald ReyesSasha KurmazThomas GeigerYann VandermeKarin LehmannAnja MajerHabacuc Guillermo Vargas Roger MunozPaulette PenjeSebastien VerdonDavid HorvitzFabian BoschungNicolás RobbioNina Beier & Marie LundBenvenuto ChavajayMarton RobinsonCarey YoungAbsence of LogicAbsenceJulien PrévieuxInstituto Tecnológico de Costa RicaUniversidad de Costa RicaJorge de LeónAbsence of Divisionsto be announcedAdriana ArroyoErno HilarionLuis ChavesScreeningDonna ConlonJonathan HarkerFischli & WeissKeren CytterAlejandro Bonilla RojasJulian GalleseAlejandro RamírezCarlos FernándezLucía MadrizMarton RobinsonEva & Franco MattesFabiola CarranzaSophie BarbaschDiana Abi KhalilAlberto Rodríguez CollíaResidencyAlberto FontFabian NiklausÁlvaro Marenco MarrocchiRosemary MedinaErnesto Jara VargasAyami AwazuharaMatthias DolderAníbal LópezYaxs FoundationTamara DíazCentral American BiennialAna Lucrecia MuñozAníbal CatalánAudrey HoubenDiego GiannettoniErica Muralles HazbunJason MenaJorge LinaresKevin BaltazarMario Alberto López CruzNuria GüellSergio RojasProyecto 44Hugo QuintoJennifer PaizNora PérezPaulina ZamoraPablo XonáCarolina ArroyoLeonel JuracánEsperanza de LéonLeo HoffmannC.R.A.C.artFrancis AlÿsDavid ClaerboutDouglas GordonGary HillPierre HuygheJoan JonasIsaac JulienWilliam KentridgePaul McCarthyPipilotti RistAnri SalaNew MuseumChus MartínezNicolas LeubaStéphanie SerraNicola TrezziSabrina Röthlisberger BelkacemWalterio IrahetaAdán VallecilloDaros LatinamericaLeonardo GonzálezKaron Sabrina CorralesMuseum of the Honduran ManMarcos AgudeloGladioska Garcia SolisJuanita BermudezAlejandro de la GuerraRaúl QuintanillaErnesto SalmerónFederico HerreroSimone HuserJosé Manuel CastrellonJohann WolfschoonAna Elena GaruzSchandra MadhaZoe Sans-Arcidet-LacourtPrinted MatterKeith GrayMax SchumannAaron McLaughlinDavid AntinG. Lucas CraneKayla GuthrieDan GrahamJonas BersSpreadersMatt LuczakAnima ProjectionJustin MeyersAki OndaDenise de la CerdaAlan SondheimMiekalCat LauiganMatt BrownellJulia MurilloAllora & CalzadillaAlejandro Almanza PeredaSol CaleroLuis CamnitzerAlfredo JaarRegina José GalindoTeresa MargollesRivane NeuenschwanderYoshua OkónLiliana PorterGabriel SierraNaufus Ramírez-FigueroaHanne LippardAna AlensoDeborah CastilloMichele Di MennaAude LevèreDafna MaimonEleanore PientaThe Pizza Suicide ClubTercerunquintoCorina HeinPaula PiedraMarlena WaldthausenPriscila GómezPhotographyErina LibertadAlejandro Ramirez SalasYamil de la Paz GarcíaJohan PhillipsPerformanceSergio Rojas ChavesMimian HsuAndres GudiñoDanceTheaterCharly Le PoissonnierDino RealElyla SinvergüenzaMonsieur BienOscar Ruiz SchmidtSeñorita AbrilRoberto ChavesStephanie WilliamsOlman TorresSonsoles LozanoOsvaldo BaldiFelipe Huertas OviedoJuan de la Cruz CaliváNatalea SotoObra GrisRebeca AriasLores de SousaCarlos HurtadoDanilo ReubenFabrizio ArrietaPablo CambroneroCarla SaboríoSeniorita PolyesterIngrid CorderoJose DíazElisa Bergel MeloLeo UreñaNueva FotografíaJuliette ChrétienPablo Marcus BienCamila Garon OrellanaPaula KupferOlivier AubertinGardenKarlo Andrei IbarraIgnasi AballíSite-Specific Art
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