A childish aesthetic goes haywire in a world unknown, an acid trip world that has been knit into being. Both sensual and psychedelic, the art show of Maraña is unlike anything else. The performance piece and installation blends circus acrobatics with monsters in a world of wool, taking spectators on an adventure through the complexities and layers of the most basic elements of existence.

Still relatively new, Maraña began in July of 2017. Having benefited from rapid success, the show has toured around Europe making a stunning appearance at some of the biggest festivals like Garbicz, Melt and Fusion. Based in Berlin, the team also performs in various spaces in their home city including Mensch Meier and Kater Blau.

The installation itself is a couch covered in the yarn work as well as a 6 meter by 3.2 meter knit wall infused with brilliant colours and incongruous patterns; 3D eyes and abstract shapes adorn the space while holes in the wall make space for the slow ooze of knit figures and raw yarn or the emergence of arms and fingers adorned in woven gloves. Against and within this vivid backdrop, performers appear as “monsters” in their psychedelic knit costumes embellished with small superfluous appendages, wild multicolored fringe and horn-like protuberances.

Performing a beautiful display of acrobatics to a live DJ set, the monsters seem to deliquesce and dissolve in and out with the installation, creating a kaleidoscopic atmosphere. Director Paula Riquelme created and choreographed the three primary performances of Maraña: “Inside”, “Leg Lag” and “Unk” (each 30 minutes long), and she explains how important it is for the shows to be well-rehearsed and for the performers to be connected as everyone is bedecked in knit costumes, disengaging natural skin contact communication.

Originally from Chile, Riquelme’s background is in circus choreography, and her phenomenal skills are brilliantly displayed through her monsters. Constructing all of her “creatures” with an insect in mind, Riquelme builds her performances off of sensations, taking inspiration from the natural world around us and inverting them into a completely new and unexplored space. “I work with sensations, so that the public can create emotions,” she says. The shows are created with a general idea of a feeling in mind. The dulcet and undulating impression of water served as her influence for one performance, with the idea for another taking root from forest; “Think of rain, the humidity, the mushrooms coming up through the ground … you need to feel like you’re in this other space,” she says of the encompassing atmosphere.

But while Riquelme is spurred by ideas from nature, she explains that what is most interesting is the spectrum of different perceptions that the audience creates in their own minds. “One girl said it was ‘obviously sexual’ because of the holes and things going in and out of them, another said it was an explanation of life and death … in and out the other side.” Allegorical as it may be, Maraña’s magic stems from the beauty created in the eye of the beholder. “Nobody will see it (the original idea in Riquelme’s head), and that’s fine.” She presses the power and pleasure of abstraction further when discussing people’s desire for an ethos or the core meaning of her performances, “Everybody asks ‘why?’ I say ‘why not?’”

The project began after the artist and her husband had worked on the famous and rather transcendental Gotthard Tunnel opening show in Switzerland in 2016. Having made enough money to work on a personal passion project, Riquelme and her then partner decided to dedicate a year to creating a piece of work for themselves, with no stipulations or obligations from outside sources. Discussing the assembly of her woven world, Riquelme explained that she uses a mix of bought and made items. With yarn being nearly seven times more expensive in Germany than in Argentina, the artist had to get creative on how to make her hallucinatory microcosm. “I go to Humana or PICKNWEIGHT and buy knit sweaters or blankets for a euro.”

She explains. The pieces can either be used as parts or unthreaded and re-knit or re-crocheted. The various styles of yarn work is also a quiet delight for those with knowledge of the skills. Mixing knitting, crocheting and telar (loom) knitting, the installation and costumes are also a multidimensional source of recognition and highlight for craftwork.

Bringing such disparate elements of art, craft music and performance together, Maraña engages and envelops the audience on an interdisciplinary plane, a physical and cerebral territory, which exists in a liminal space, manifesting itself uniquely dependent upon the viewer. “I never thought the public reaction would be so good,” says Riquelme, but the undeniable fascination, charisma and slight bewilderment produced from the aesthetic experience hits with strong yet slow and gentle force, and the sheer novelty and psychologically penetrating nature allows an unfettered exploration and enjoyment of the deepest crevices of our subconscious.

Maraña Team
Director: Paula Riquelme
Music/Lights: Christian Klotz
Monster 1: Sullyn González
Monster 2: Robert Buschbacher
Monster 3: Martha Kröger
Monster 4: Javier Varela
Djs: Kotoe
Raulito Wolf