Yani Pecanins was born in Mexico of immigrant German and Catalan parents and grew up in a family dedicated to the arts. Pecanins’s mother was the owner of an art gallery and saw to it that her daughter was immersed in the world of painting and the arts from a very early age. Pecanins began her professional work in 1977, working in the medium of artists’ books. In that year, she established the home-based publishing project Cocina Ediciones
(Kitchen Editions) to edit, design, print, and produce artists’ books, visual books, and artists’ portfolios. The books that came out of Cocina Ediciones
reflected the artisanal approach to the use of materials and their treatment. They were produced with the use of an old mimeograph machine, rubber stamps, and other inexpensive elements.
In 1980, Pecanins began to create her own books, combining photographs, old letters, and found objects, which over time would become the elements of her personal language. In 1988, she produced one of her most important works, Un viaje en zeppelin
(Voyage in a Zeppelin), which visually represented her intimate and personal history, a characteristic that would become emblematic of her work. This book narrates the story of the last voyage of the Hindenburg, but it also represents the tragic voyage of a family, a voyage intimately connected with the artist’s own origins.
All of Pecanins’s subsequent work was intimate and personal. She dedicated herself to an exploration and experimentation with the format, form, and language of the artist’s book. In 1998, she developed an exhibition called La Habitación de adentro
(The Room Within), inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank
. The exhibition juxtaposed a number of small dresses with the words of Anne Frank, exemplifying strength and fragility, the characteristics of a Jewish girl speaking from her physical hiding place and from her own inner world, fusing voices at once distant and near. Living words, images, and everyday objects … gains and losses.
After La Habitación de adentro
, Pecanins’s work diversified and she transcended the book format to include objects and installations. Her work has touched on the themes of exile, isolation, and loss. She has sought to construct her own language through the use of everyday objects such as plates and spoons, clothing, photographs, shoes, needles, and thread. With calligraphy, she explores sensations, intimacy, her own inner world, and the inner world of others.
Biography courtesy of Yani Pecanins (translated from Spanish by Andy Klatt)