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«There Are Tides in the Body» – Maya Hottarek’s residency in Colombia

Colombia — Residencies

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Maya Hottarek

In her work, visual artist Maya Hottarek [CH] relates our complex interactions (individual, social, economic) with our basic needs. Growing up in a household full of altars, she found in this medium a format that works as a very personal object as well as an item full of social, religious, and spiritual meaning.

During her residency in Colombia, entitled «There Are Tides in the Body» (a quote from Virgina Woolf’s «Mrs Dalloway»), she widened her research on altars, which she has been exploring in her sculptural work. Through encounters with locals, she examined the role altars played in Colombian culture and how they express very personal values.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how openly people in Colombia talk about precisely these topics [spirituality and religion],” says the artist. “Spirituality is not a taboo that everyone practices on their own, it is much more a part of everyday life than in Switzerland, for example.”

Besides her research, Hottarek experimented with photography, collages, cyanotypes (a technique she used before getting into ceramics) and woodwork. These all resulted in a more symbolic and abstract reinterpretation of the altar format.

“I came to the residency open-minded, with a research topic, but not really an idea on how to get there. I met a lot of people, I visited a lot of places. Maybe to do it [a residency] like this is a little bit more challenging, but I would do it again, because I gathered so much information. That is probably something that will stay with me for a long time. A residency is not just over after those three months, something will carry on.”


Maya Hottarek [CH] is a visual artist whose work interacts with various media and usually revolves around a specific topic. A fundamental interest of hers is to articulate the complex interactions between the individual, society, and the economy. She aims to relate all of these themes to our basic needs, including nature, which she considers the most fundamental need. The way most of contemporary societies are handling resources is at the core of her artistic practice. She works mostly with ceramic and sound, and sometimes with found material. Most of her works function as characters in all-compassing installations, with film functioning as a link between all these elements. Inspired by everyday life, she attempts, through various methods, to filter out its simplicity. As a result, she aims to open up new dimensions of her understanding of reality and question the notion of perception altogether.

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