Juan Pablo Plazas (Bogota, 1987) is a Colombian anthropologist and artist living and working in Brussels, Belgium since 2012. He is fascinated by the ability of people and communities to interpret the world in different ways. In his practice, he departs from everyday objects and raw materials that possess exceptional material or formal properties. With astonishment and a sense of humour, he removes these items from their ordinary context and transforms them into sculptures or assigns them roles in a performance. Through this act, Plazas breaks through the ‘perfectly normal’ and invites us to understand objects as animated, living matter. In 2013 he graduated from the Master’s program at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. In 2014 he was granted with the Jan Naaijkens Prijs from the North Brabant Society. His work has been shown at Bureau des Réalités in Brussels (2016), SMAK, Gent (2017), Chauffeur, Sydney, AU (2018), Besme 105 in Brussels (2018), Mieke van Schaijk Galerie in ’s-Hertogenbosch, NL (2018) among other places. He is part of the Self Luminous Society and the 76.4 project in Saint Gilles, Brussels, and current resident at HISK, Gent, Belgium.
How do you see yourself? This is the perfect question for someone who is either standing in front of a mirror or practicing astral projection. I’m interested in both activities, but like many other things, I haven’t really studied them in proper depth yet. I rather introduce myself as an artist and anthropologist, because these are the areas that I studied the most and they are a fundamental part of what I do everyday. I describe my activities as a sort of fortuitous ethnography that unveils itself through the manners of an art practice. This means that I’m constantly looking for the unexpected within the apparently obvious, the blatant certainty of the misunderstood and the wrong answers to what no one ever asks. I’m specially attracted to coincidences, which I take as the thread that guides any kind of project I’m doing, as the only proof that something ties this world together. To be able to make use of coincidences, I create strategies to make myself available to them. I use the same strategies to build sculptures, performances, installations, videos, audio pieces, photographs, drawings or whatever medium the circumstances of a project demand. What makes two events, ideas, people or situations fall in the same spot? They meet in corners that come from the same road: language. No matter which kind of language, my aim is to go down that road and make all the stops possible.