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Project Medias Hojas

Summer 2016
Summer 2016
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Born in Argentina,  Martín Touzón took the leap from working in the field of economics to becoming an artist full time. He works on several different mediums simultaneously to make large-scale installations that comment on the effect of inflationary processes on the Argentine economy, and reference the relationship between art and economics. Lately Touzón has been working with handmade paper. Trained in economics, I am a self-taught artist. When I started making art, I did not feel any technical constraints. I had a kind of free pass, a certain distance that I felt I could exploit both practically and conceptually. Indeed my entire body of work considers the gap between the fields of art and economics. In almost all of my art projects, I have used paper, for instance, the financial section of newspapers (En unión y libertad, 2011–2013), old advertising campaigns (Asociaciones Mínimas, 2013), and tickets or photographs (Juntos x Siempre, 2011–2012 and Espacios de Coexistencia, 2011). For my current project, Medias Hojas, I am employing the hand papermaking process.

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I started Medias Hojas in 2011 after I found a lost sock on the counter of a laundry in my neighborhood. I wanted to keep it, but the shop attendant told me it was waiting for its pair. This intrigued me, so some weeks later I returned and asked for it again. There it was, still waiting for its pair, nowhere to be seen. Since then, I have collected odd socks at different laundries in Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the time I had several plastic bags full of odd socks, I knew I needed to do something with them. These socks were no longer alone, but still they did not have their pairs. While the socks spoke of Project Medias Hojas martín touzón Composition A5-ISO 216 #2, 2015 8.3 x 5.8 inches, poured pulp (made from socks). All photos courtesy of the artist. summer 2016 - 19 their previous owners, I was not interested in those stories. What intrigued me were the size of the sock, the materiality, and the sheer quantity of so many odd socks. Where are their pairs? Where did they go? What does it say about our city, its inhabitants, the logistics of the laundries? I had heard about El Molino del Manzano, a papermaking facility in Buenos Aires where you could go with your idea and they would supersize it. So I went, with the idea to imbed my socks into sheets of handmade paper. Instead, after tea and conversation, they offered me the opportunity to actually make paper out of the socks. We decided to organize the different pulps into a colorful grid, based somewhat on the Fibbonacci series. It became Media Hoja. Hoja is "sheet" in Spanish. Media is the Spanish word for sock. The same word also means "half." Sheets made of half pairs of socks, a play on words. After hours of painstakingly cutting the socks into pieces, we beat them in the Hollander. Some of the socks were made out of a synthetic material with little or no cotton. Will they hold up as paper? The mill assured me that it would work without adding any fillers or adhesives. This suited my concept to make paper entirely from socks. We are keeping the pulps separated by size (S, M, L, and XL), by color, and by provenance. The objective is to put the socks together, but turn them into a new thing, removing their shape without losing their reference. They are being transformed into abstract compositions using ISO 216 standard paper sizes: A3, A4, A5, A7, and A9. While I am a bit removed from the actual making of Media Hoja, I am directing the project, instructing the mill as to the size and placement of the differently colored pulps. I am relying on the mill to control the process and the quality of the final piece. Each composition is a Media Hoja, the result of a meeting between different laundries and different socks, chance encounters that follows the rhythms and possibilities of the recollection process and its own contingency. The author wishes to acknowledge Vicky Sigwald for her assistance in preparing this essay. Installation view of "Medias Hojas," an exhibition at Ro Gallery, May 2015, consisting of color samples, casting samples, and A1, A3, and A5 compositions. Martín Touzón working in El Molino del Manzano, 2015. below: Work in progress at El Molino del Manzano, 2015. The pulp, made from socks separated by color and size, is poured inside a grid that is placed on top of a paper mould. After 15 minutes of drainage the grid is gently removed and the piece is compressed to remove the water and close up the spaces previously occupied by the grid, making the piece into a single sheet.