Abel Azcona is an spanish interdisciplinary artist specially bonded to performance art, his work, though, explores and focuses great attention to the aesthetic results and is therefore related with mediums such as photography, videoart, installation and sculpture. His art work has been presented in various museums, contemporary art centers, galleries and artistic spaces from countries all over the world like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Poland, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, United States of America, China, Philippines and Japan.
His work is usually defined under two axises explored between one another through a constant synergy: autobiographical and critical. This makes his work highly heterogenous, and renders it as a personal portrait. This thoughts find in art a tool for criticism, but also a tool for self knowledge that questions reflections about society in which they are involved. Azcona invites the public to share their experience dragging them to his inner world.
His artistic exploration considered highly biographic looks into his own childhood, scarred experiences of abuse, abandonment, and child maltreatment, being his biological mother a key reference of his experience and therefore of his artistic craft. The feeling of abandonment experimented for the first time because of his mother, who practiced prostitution, and his pass through multiple child shelters, mental institutions and different foster homes, are determinant to the way Azcona expresses himself. His life experience, marked by drugs, prostitution, or several suicide attempts during his adolescence, are linked to his creation and so he doesn't hesitate to share with the viewers through his work. In his works on this intimacy, Azcona is known for experiencing pain and physical stamina, exposing himself to beatings, intoxications, aggressions and various tortures both physical and psychological, and doesn't cower to confront himself. Azcona tells us that when inner pain is so intense, outer pain can disappear; uses pain to empathize with his own feelings and own experiences during childhood and teen ages. Also, he assures that when he practices self-harm, it's his own choice to alter the shape of his body, as opposing to an abused child or woman, without a chance to decide. A resilient Azcona, creator of a cathartic work as a mean of self knowledge and personal construction.
Concurrent and consequently, the artist from Navarra creates works of a highly critical content: exploring topics like feminism, sexuality, inequality, politics or religion, and seeks to shed light into these social issues. This way the artist judges the propagation of stereotypes, misogyny and preconceived ideas about the roles of man and woman, and therefore his questionings look for going further form the structured identities into the society.
As a consequence of this questionings a wide range of artistic works that manages to get in action is generated, just so his commitment is so deep with performing art that the artist claims the presence of it within his daily life. His creation has broken the limits of art to reach further away from the spaces of galleries or museums. His thoughts are inherent to the whole needs of society so that the artist searches creating performing places into the public space therefore assigning them other meanings. Equally, he has developed his work in teaching revolving around performance through workshops with artists during their training process which allows the exchange of experiences and questionings, nourishing his own activity. Projects of investigation through human body as an artistic tool whiting the files of mental health and unprotected childhood, and collaborations with pedagogy in international colleges.
For some people it's easy to affirm that Azcona's work is filled with sexuality and despair, just as his job reflects an oscillating personality: Performance art with a diligently studied and cared about aesthetic as opposing to dirtier works, unpleasant and that his very own creator defines as "hideous", that talk about pregnancy, abandonment, prostitution, maltreatment, feminism, inequality or ambiguity. "If we are disturbed about what we see, it is more because of its attachment to reality than because of its closeness to vulgarity" he claims. It is this way that the artist gets to generate tensions and cathartic points that allow the public to get involved in his work, maybe taking over ad generating brand new subjective matters.
With a deep bond to art as a cathartic element during his whole life, and a special relation with performing arts though his childhood and adolescence, Azcona creates his first performance art work in 2005, just when he founds and leads the first art in action collective in Pamplona that is born in the School Of art of the same city. Since then he has created uncountable actions and projects. Within his most international projects we find criticism to religious fundamentalism during an artistic residence in Berlin, where Azcona swallows page by page the sacred book of Koran, for the performance "Eating a Koran". As a consequence, he received death threats from various collectives, a fact that never hindered the artist to detach from going on with his critique nor he felt forced to change his way of working. From then he starts a work that seeks to root a critical exercise into the society thought and artistic and philosophical manifesto titled "Involuntary theory of a confronted death". The said manifesto is presented along with other colleagues ready to develop artistic projects that break the bounds of danger of the criticism and are confronted to the artist's very own death, at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. The project "Confinement in search of identity", composed by numerous performative processes in which the privation of freedom is the main theme, grab great media attention when putting in danger Acona's own health and life. "Empathy and prostitution" is a piece where the artist practices prostitution with his own body in various ways, with conclusions such as internal knowledge and social criticism. Other projects he faces issues such as adoption, child trafficking, and works with a big physical visibility addressing his own gestation and topics like the intorruption of pregnancy though illness and sexual diversity.