Rema Hort Mann Foundation

Beatriz Cortez

My work is about the memory of growing up in El Salvador, and about migration. But my work is also about the experience of simultaneity: of living in two places at once, San Salvador and Los Angeles, existing in two or more, but different versions of modernity, in different cultural mind frames, moving back and forth within different technologies and different temporalities. I think of memory as part of a process of transformation, movement, becoming other, nomadism. And so, I build memory in order to imagine possible futures.

I make machines that function as metaphors of movement, time travel, simultaneity. My time machines, memory machines, fortune teller machines, pinball machines display crumbling versions of modernity and newer versions of modernity at once. The ability to intervene in the chronological order of time is important to my work.

I am also interested in exploring syncretism and simultaneity through vernacular or domestic architecture in the city of Los Angeles, brining together modern and ancient forms of construction. An indigenous way of building with river rocks was incorporated into the construction of craftsman homes, in what came to be known as a vernacular craftsman. This form of construction serves as a metaphor of cultural diversity, coexistence, and nomadism. My work evokes these constructions as it imagines structures of the future.

In addition, my work explores the untimely conversations and other forms of communication within displaced and fragmented communities, with alternative technologies, precarious realities, limited access, and the formation of trans-spatial collective subjectivities.

Furthermore, my work embraces speculative thought and contingency, not as a threat to Western rationality, but rather, in a positive light, as a space where we might imagine other possible worlds, actively vacate our own subjectivity, and imagine being other, being elsewhere, being collective, being nomadic. In this way, I imagine the experience of displaced communities divided by borders and their affirmative potentialities.

In sum, my work is about simultaneity, movement, becoming other, fragmenting our identities, and imagining untimely experiences.