The collection “Sustraia“ [Basque: roots] deals with current political questions and clearly criticizes the system of borders that rule and structure our world. It deals with walls that lock up people on both sides of the border, that imprison, violently separate and arbitrarily define who is `inside´and who `outside´.
Having witnessed the barriers and dangers, the cruelty and the indignity that result from this arbitrary system of borders, Jose Pablo Arriaga has dedicated a whole collection to this topic, approaching it from two sides. On the one hand, he has taken the actual appearance of walls and transformed them into pieces of artistic furniture.
It is not the artist’s intention to normalize the existence of borders and give them even more space in our daily life. On the contrary, it should rather be understood as a call to take down these walls, which separate us and keep up a system of indignity. Beyond, the furniture represents the request to transform these walls, an invitation come together and sit down face to face around this uniting table, which once had been a separating border.
His second artistic approach with regards to walls and borders are the outsized hugging roots, which the artist has created and installed in many countries around the world. These roots represent the liberty inherent in nature – finally the natural liberty that every being originally inherits. These roots, which do not care for borders, but pass and overcome them, finally, on the other side of the ocean, join and unite other roots.
Arriaga’s root sculptures are a call for us to remember our roots of freedom. It can be understood as a memorial of the beauty, which becomes reality whenever we allow our eternal and fraternal connection with our surrounding, the nature and the people, which too often remains in the dark, to flourish. The message behind the collection can best be expressed in the artist’s own words: “I cannot love countries, their absurd borders, or their written down confines, but I can love the hugs with which I sow the roads.“