On 09 June Brigade opened the exhibition ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’ by Peruvian-German artist Berenike Corcuera. The exhibition is Corcuera’s first solo and depicts Corcuera’s search for identity and belonging in western contemporary spirituality through a series of large colorful appliqué works. After the opening we asked her about her thoughts on the process, what each earthly element represents to her and what her mother thought about her picture being included in one of her works. Your exhibition ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ at Brigade marks the opening of your first solo exhibition and depicts elements of your own spiritual journey. Can you say a little bit about the development of the exhibition and how it came about? I have always been very drawn to metaphysical and spiritual topics. For ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’, I started my research from a sketchbook where I tried to link the research I had previously gathered about spirituality, to personal memories and feelings. My sketchbook then evolved into an inquiry and retrospective on my spiritual journey and the core reasons for spiritual identity. I discovered the recurrent pattern of the natural elements always being present during the most meaningful stages and came to think that they represent not only nature but consciousness, and that they are in fact the most fundamental ‘spirit’ of existence. The natural elements for me have different energy and I tried to express this energy through the lens of my own experience. It was also to express the balance or imbalance of certain energies during your lifetime and how that influences our experience. As you mention, the exhibition guides the viewer through different lifecycle stages in the form of natural elements. Can you explain what they each represent? Water: The Mother and inception of life. The “water breaking” into a new consciousness, the growing up rites & ceremonies tied to institutionalized spirituality but also the ancestral wisdom, as water is wisdom and feminine energy. Water is also emotional energy, feeling rather than thinking. Air: The mental energy - of intellect, communication, academia, philosophy and travel. This element represents a core part of my ‘third culture kid’ upbringing and multinational background, the thoughts of not belonging anywhere particular, yet having meaningful mental experiences around the world. Fire: The sexual and creative energy of relationships with romantic partners. How sexuality has been taught to be viewed by institutions and society versus my personal experience of sanctity within the core of connection. The reverence and respect towards feminine (sexuality) as a form of divine creation, as opposed to femininity that has been tainted unorthodox. Earth: The father and “end” of a lifecycle, but also the start of a new one (seed) before water gives birth. Physical and earthly energy. The ancestral roots and land. Divine masculine energy that is in symbiosis with the land and earth as opposed to Anthropocene imbalances. The recycling of natural cycles and spiritual experiences. Compost and regeneration serve as necessary energy for earth and deceased spirits becoming guides for ancestral healing and guarding ancestral lands.
In your works, you have chosen to include private and found imagery from your own personal archive mixed with your own artistic motifs and compositions - what were your thoughts on this?
It was a deliberate way of working for me, as this is how I have always worked. I have a big archive of files full of research with imagery and text that I use as my library and which I add to continually. I go through all the relevant files to collect what is relevant for my current project. I like to reference, edit and change personal and found imagery to the extent where I feel like it represents my ideas.
Taking a specific work such as Zwischenwelt, 2022 which portrays your mother standing under a waterfall - what are the different symbolic references in this work and what did your mother think about being included in this?
In “Zwischenwelt”, I aim to express the sanctity of water. It's simple but also complex: Water, in the spiritual realm, represents the feminine energy, emotion, receptivity, purification, transfer of knowledge. The work signifies the intermediate world. It's an intimate space where you are alone with the heavens, the earth and the happy present moment. When my mother recognized herself in the photograph, the feelings she associated with the artwork and the memory of that lived experience were congruent and true to her experience.
What do you listen to when working in the studio (if to anything)?
Mark Groves podcast, Pam Gregory Astrology forecasts on Youtube, one of my many Spotify Playlists, DJ mixes from my friends soundcloud, Under the Skin with Russell Brand.
When you made the exhibition was there anything you were fearful of or wanted to avoid including in the pieces?
At the beginning, I was a bit worried about not knowing how all the materials would react or look on a big scale. It was difficult to imagine as I had not done such big artworks before. However, I am happy with the result and know that I worked hard and did the best I could.
How has your work process with Brigade been and what are your take outs from it?
It has been such a pleasure working with Brigade on this exhibition but also with our collaboration before. I am extremely grateful and happy for their guidance, support and dedication towards my practice and especially the belief in my work.
Click here to view the full list of works included in the exhibition.