Elsewhere(s)

March 21 - June 17, 2022

 

ADÁL (Puerto Rico, b. 1948 – 2020)

Puerto Rican artist, ADÁL (Adál Maldonado) investigated issues of biculturalism through his satirical, conceptual multi-media artwork. A photo series made from digitally altered photographs from the 1969 NASA moon landing, Coconauts in Space (2006) suggests an alternative history as that of an earlier moon landing by Puerto Rican astronauts in 1963. Appropriating the actual event in the history of the United States, the series fits within ADAL's larger myth-making project of creating a "parallel universe." ADAL's signature wit and sense of humor are combined with a serious consideration of the effects of U.S. expansionist policies and acts of historical revisionism by a dominant culture. Keeping in mind the particular colonial history between Puerto Rico and the United States, the work also resonates with the science fiction trope of colonial expansion into extraterrestrial territories. [Text by Rudi Kraeher]

Juan Carlos Alom (Cuba, b. 1964)

Juan Carlos Alom is a Cuban photographer and filmmaker who focuses on various aspects of the Cuban experience including Afro-Cuban religion, youth, isolation, and life in Havana. Our Toys (2012) represents an homage to childhood referencing material culture left behind by those born in the pre-revolution era and repurposed by those born after the revolution. As the artist explains, after the 1959 Cuban revolution, toys were rationed so that every child could get one (and only one) per year, with specific shops assigned to each community, and particular days on which they could purchase them. Portraying the reconfigured toys is for Alom a way to search for his identity as a post-revolutionary Cuban. Solo tú cabes en la palma de mi mano (1994) is part of Alom’s series El libro oscuro (The Dark Book) that, as Lucy Raven describes, serves as a collection of fetishized and “staged metaphorical objects” representing “symbols of captivity and mortality”.

Álvaro Barrios (Colombia, b. 1945)

A multidisciplinary artist, Álvaro Barrios has focused on pop culture, surrealism, and conceptual art. Using irony and humor, Barrios often references Duchamp’s readymades and iconoclastic approach to high art. Such is the case with Relicario conteniendo basura de la tumba de Marcel Duchamp (Reliquary containing garbage from Marcel Duchamp’s tomb, 2018). This work connects with earlier pieces such as Raros, Preciosos y Bellos (1982), and the overall idea of making something transcendent from useless objects. In 1983, Barrios collected garbage from Duchamp’s family tomb, using it later for this reliquary. Inspired by the concept that the universe as a whole is a reliquary that contains humankind and its environment as sacred objects, Barrios reframed waste as a sanctified element. With the reliquary, Barrios further challenges Western ideals regarding the sacredness of a saintly death presented here as a popular souvenir receptacle for garbage.

Erica Bohm (Argentina, b. 1976)

Erica Bohm is an Argentinian artist who explores the potential of outer space to generate otherworldly landscapes. Referencing the realms of science fiction, philosophy, astronomy, and literature, the artist explores connection between science and art. For Bohm, both the arts and sciences “ask necessary questions about the origin of the universe,” which she then synthesizes using new and outmoded technologies, fiction, and reality.

Ricardo Brey (Cuba, b. 1955)

Cuban artist Ricardo Brey works with drawings and sculptures and has focused his practice on researching humankind’s origins and place in the world. Unsettling (2019-2020) is one of Brey’s sculptural assemblages housed inside unfolding archival boxes. Inspired by Duchamp among others, Brey uses the boxes as a starting point to display intervened objects, comparing the boxes to bodily organs, and the act of viewing as a form of surgical procedure. The work demands a close inspection, an analysis of the natural and artificial, and a reflection on how the artist transforms reality. As with alchemy, Brey states, “good art enables you to see the artist’s struggle with raw material to transform the way we see the world.”

Elda Cerrato (Italy, b. 1930)

Elda Cerrato was an Italian-born Argentinian artist who emigrated to Buenos Aires after WWII. Cerrato explores themes of economic inequalities, class struggles and conflicts using the visual language of mass media and echoing her personal experiences of successive migrations. Represented in Cerrato’s most emblematic works are depictions of crowds, maps, aerial views and symbols of Peronism. El sueño de la casita propia (The Dream of Owning a House of One’s Own, 1976) presents the artist’s recurrent theme in which maps are seen as emblems of power repurposed to “zoom in on reality.” Representing different types of housing within a circular viewfinder set against outlined maps, Cerrato frames the scene with a multitude of anonymously faces that seems to emerge from the sides of the paintings. The title of the series echoes the Peronista activists’ call for housing to be understood as a human right, “el derecho a la vivienda.”

Martín Chambí (Peru, b. 1891 – d. 1973)

Peruvian photographer Martín Chambí is recognized as the first indigenous photographer (born in Coaza, near Titikaka). Portraying indigenous people in a dignified way, Chambí moved away from the ethnographic approach commonly used at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Chambí considered that the “true spirit” of Peru resided with the indigenous population. The photographer is often linked with indigenismo, a political and cultural movement popular in the first two decades of the 20th century that focuses on the nation-state and indigenous minorities.

Jesús Eduardo Correa Nache (Colombia, b. 1985)

Based at the Reservation of Pitayo in the Southwest of Colombia, Jesús Eduardo Correa Nache focuses his work on the identity and cosmology of Nasa Culture. Taaw (Chumbe), from 2014, refers to the long colorful sash used by women of the Nasa community to carry their children on their backs. The connection bonds mother and children in a similar way to what bejuco leaves does to other plants – it unites them to provide protection. Taaw (Chumbe) is a multimedia work that combines photographs of the vine-like leaves of bejuco embroidered with the symbols used for the chumbe, and a video in which an elderly woman translates the symbols in the nasa yuwe language.

Hugo Crosthwaite (Mexico, b. 1971)

Mexican artist Hugo Crosthwaite is known for his figurative black and white graphite and charcoal drawings that combine portraiture with references to popular culture and mythology. In Roboticlue (2013) the artist juxtaposes the science-fiction icon Robbie the Robot (from the 1956’s film Forbidden Planet) with the Aztec deity Coatlicue, mother of the gods and mortals, life and death. By morphing them into one, Crosthwaite highlights the sacred value and trust that we put into technology and questions the appropriation of ancient sacred cultures by contemporary science-fiction fantasies.

Juan Downey (Chile, b. 1940 – d. 1993)

Juan Downey was a Chilean artist known for his experimental works with video, participatory and electronic sculpture, and ecological design. The works shown in Elsewhere(s) are part of the series Mi casa en la Playa (My House On The Beach) made in 1975 while Downey was teaching at Hunter College and Pratt Institute. These works are telling of Downey’s interest in the expanded field of art and architecture, and his perception of artists as producers of social change through the transformation of space. Midway between architectural design and utopic drawings, Mi casa en la Playa shows the design of a bulbous house powered by hydropower, wind, and solar energy with delimited areas for food and hygiene, “sharing”and “being alone.”

Jorge Eduardo Eielson (Peru, b. 1924 – d. 2006)

Peruvian artist and writer Jorge Eduardo Eielson described himself as a worker of word, image, color, and space. Eielson is best known for his Quipu series that reinterpreted the recording devices used by different cultures in Andean South America using colorful strings of color, knotted at specific heights. Shown in Elsewhere(s) is the work Amazzonia (1998) that resembles this series, as well as Piramide di stracci (Pyramid of rags, 1965-1970). Piramide di stracci is an installation formed by a pyramid made with compressed swimsuits and a photograph of Sardinian painter Michele Mulas with his family. As Eielson explains: “The cloth pyramid is to the Mulas family what Cheiops is to the Pharaon. A mere object that defies the time, and whose temporality is tied to its content. The mother's black outfit and the children's colorful bathing suits were used in its construction. As such, its materiality contains sea salt, sand, and the light of the Mediterranean. An authentic solar bundle, it was made and abandoned on the beach, at the very place where the Mulas family stood in the summer of 1965”

Gego (Germany, b. 1912 – d. 1994)

Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt) was a German-born artist whose work highlighted the use of delicate three-dimensional lines, often made of steel wire. In 1939, Gego migrated to Venezuela where she established and developed her artistic practice, often associated with the local geometric abstraction movement. Her sculptures and works on paper reflect her training in architecture and engineering, as well as her interest in the line. Gego explored how lines expand into space and how a system of knots can define volume, exposing the work’s construction. In Untitled (1967), on view in Elsewhere(s), Gego drew lines over two overlapped printed grids that function as an exploration of weaving lines as well as weaving patterns.

Adler Guerrier (Haiti-USA, b. 1975)

Adler Guerrier is a Miami-based artist born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His work alludes to space and time and their influence on the construction of race, class, and culture. Untitled (Place marked with an impulse; purple speckles, extends and roams; a node linked to other planes of there) ii, from 2021, is part of an ongoing series the artist calls “the Fold”. As Guerrier explains, this series aims to explore the implications of the pleat in the context of an embodied landscape. He asks how an idea – or as the title says, an impulse – can operate in a place and how image-making and narrative can form and inform a space.

Graciela Iturbide (Mexico, b. 1942)

Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide is best known for her work about indigenous communities from Mexico. Angel Woman / Mujer angel, Sonoran Desert (1980) is part of her series Those who live in the sand. This series stemmed from a commission by the Ethnographic Archive of the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico to photograph Mexico’s indigenous population. Iturbide traveled to the Sonora desert in northwest Mexico and lived with the Seri people for six weeks. She documented and recorded the way this group of fishermen living a nomadic lifestyle interacted with their environment and the people in Arizona, with whom they exchanged art for electronics, such as the radio that the angel woman carries in this photograph.

José Manuel Mesías (Cuba, b. 1990)

José Manuel Mesías is a multimedia Cuban artist that works with painting, drawing, video, sculpture, and installation. He uses his surroundings as inspiration for the themes and materials used in his work. El ojo del relojero (The Watch Maker’s Eye, 2014-1028) is part of a series of assemblies-objects entitled “Crafts” that reference the life and objects of repair shops in Cuba. As the artist explains, it is common for Cuban workers to use handmade artifacts as tools to fix other objects. In El ojo del relojero, for example, watch faces are used as magnifying glasses, alluding to the dedication of the craft, and addressing the question: how does someone spending most of their lives fixing watches perceive time?

Sandra Monterroso (Guatemala, b. 1974)

Guatemalan artist Sandra Monterroso uses different media including painting, tapestry, installation, video, and performance. At the core of her work is the relationship between modernity and remnants of colonialism, patriarchy, and gender issues. Columna vertebral amarilla, from 2011 is part of her “backbone” series that she dedicates to the Maya q'eqchi'. In this work, Monterroso is inspired by the 5 Mayan directions: center, north, south, west, and east, represented with different colors. The yellow column relates to the South and is a tribute to the origin of the wind. The column is formed by stacked and weaved skirts, creating as the artist explains, “a monument to the lives of so many women who through their work strengthen history, a history that is full of so many contradictions from the times of colonization to the present coloniality”

Santiago Montoya (Colombia, b. 1974)

Santiago Montoya is a Colombian multidisciplinary artist based in Miami who uses neon, precious stones, and global paper currencies for his work. Wall of lamentations (XVI) from 2017, is part of his series made with paper money on stainless steel, where the artist plays with the color of the bills to create maps, money signs, or abstract compositions. As money has a symbolic value, the artist engages with the idea of trust as well as the nuances of production and distribution of wealth. Furthermore, the order of the paper currencies suggests unification and stability. In doing so, the artist also questions the intentions of the governments and financial organizations in which we put our trust to create a better, fairer world.

Julieth Morales (Colombia, b. 1992)

Multimedia artist Julieth Morales defines herself as Misak by birth and mestizo by context. Her work challenges the representation of indigenous people, avoiding freezing them in time or eroticizing them. Socalar (2019) is a serigraphy done on a Misak shawl that represents a group of people holding machetes. This piece was made from the exchange of the artist with inhabitants of the Espacio Territoriales de Capacitación y Reincorporación (ETCR). The ETCR are areas where the Colombian government helps former members of the FARC into “civil” life. These tools – often associated with violent killings – are used to prepare the soil before sowing.

Rubén Ortiz Torres, (Mexico-USA, b. 1964)

Rubén Ortiz Torres is a multidisciplinary artist and curator born in Mexico City and based in California. The artist’s work explores multiculturalism, hybridity, and contemporary culture, and blends Latin American and American art and politics. His series La Raza Cósmica refers to the theory developed by José Vasconcelos by which a cosmic or universal race would be created from the fusion of the other races (mestizaje). The five photographs included in Elsewhere(s) play with the contrast between the hostility the people recognized by the US Immigration and Naturalization Services as “aliens” and “illegal aliens” and the American obsession with extraterrestrial beings.

Lygia Pape (Brazil, b. 1927 – d. 2004)

Brazilian visual artist Lygia Pape used sculpture, engravings, installation, and filmmaking among other mediums. She is known for her exploration of color and light, and her relation to her connection with the Brazilian group “Grupo Frente”. Ttéia 1,A, is part of her web series that Pape began in the 1970s. The title is a play on words with “teia” which means web in Portuguese and “teteia” which is a team of endearment referring to a beautiful person or thing. These subtle webs are constructed with silver or gold thread in the space, either in a corner – as is the case with Ttéia 1,A – or from floor to ceiling. The threads are staggered, intersecting and weaving through the air, connecting with Pape’s interest in liberating the artwork from the static form. The installation blends the visible and invisible, real and imaginary, and allows the spectator to slowly discover the work. Ttéia 1,A was designed in 1991 and it is being exhibited for the first time in this exhibition. 

Manuel Antonio Pichillá (Guatemala, b. 1982)

The works by Maya-Tz`utujil artist Antonio Pichillá are inspired by the textile heritage of his Mayan family, as well as Western tradition, particularly abstraction. In Glifo de Kukulkán (2010), Pichillá combines the Mayan tradition of using stones in rituals to connect with the Earth and the ancestors, with the artificial and clean cut of the stone, linking the sculpture to minimalist sculpture. Thread, by itself or in combination with other materials, is often featured in his work, as it is the case with Acción de un personaje Ab’aj (2016). As explained by his gallery, Rofa Projects, “The knot is the bond between beings and their beginnings; it is the union that allows them to continue on a certain path. The knot is the articulation between kinfolks and/or enemies, which maintains a structure and at the same time creates tension between them.”

Miguel Angel Ríos (Argentina, b. 1943)

Miguel Angel Ríos is a multimedia and conceptual artist born in Argentina, living in Mexico and the United States. Since the 1970s, his work has focused on the constructed concept of “Latin America,” as an ‘unknown’ that was ‘discovered’ through colonization. Le premier voyage à l’inconnu (1994) is from of a series of carefully manipulated-folded and cut-maps. This series marked the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of the Americas and alludes to the political act of map creation, and the arbitrariness of frontiers, particularly in relation to colonial occupation and its legacy. Le premier voyage à l’inconnu was first shown in MoMA’s exhibition Mapping (1994), organized by Robert Storr, which explored how maps and their imagery have inspired contemporary international artists. Ríos counts as one of the first proponents of a post-colonial approach through his questioning of the legitimacy of national boundaries.

Xul Solar (Argentina, b. 1887 – d. 1963)

Argentinian multimedia artist Xul Solar (born Oscar Agustín Alejandro Schulz Solari) is known for using iconography stemming from his broad interests including indigenous cultures, the esoteric, the occult, mysticism, and astrology as well as the influence of his experiences in Europe, where he lived from 1912 to 1924. Examples of these works are the three watercolors exhibited in Elsewhere(s): Bau (1921), Susurran (ca. 1922), and an Untitled work from 1925. In opposition to the accepted canons of his time, Xul Solar developed an imaginary language Pan lingua that would encompass multiple languages. Similarly, with Pan ajedrez (Pan Chess, ca. 1945), Xul developed a game made of a chessboard and 106 pieces marked with letters as well as esoteric and astrological symbols. Appropriating the language of games to convey multiple, multi-layered meanings, Xul Solar’s elaborate version of the chessboard presents an infinite game, not conditioned by rules imposed from outside but rather by rules that evolve continuously with each game.

Candelaria Traverso (Argentina, b. 1991)

The work of multimedia artist Candelaria Traverso is informed by her early childhood experiences growing up in Jujuy (a northwest province in Argentina that borders Bolivia). The work Tapiz (2018) refers more specifically to the local street markets where second-hand clothes coming mainly from the US and Europe are sold, often arriving in colorful plastic burlap packages produced in Asian countries such as Korea. Traverso uses the reconfigured bag material as the main medium for Tapiz that she cuts to represent abstract designs inspired by Andean textiles and symbols, such as the Inca cross, known as Chakana. The result is a blend of local, highly specific, and ancient iconography within the context of global commerce and contemporary material. 

Unknown artists from the Mezcala

The Mezcala culture was based in the region of the Mezcala River in Guerrero State, south of Mexico City, and it flourished between 500 BCE and 900 CE. Although very little is known about this civilization, the Mezcala people are known for the production of stone sculptures such as the one called Seated stargazer (500 BCE-100 CE). Often made from semi-precious or hard stone without the use of metal tools, the sculptures represented human figures, animals, and architectural models. These were found in burial sites and other sacred spaces, and are believed to represent mainly elite members of society or deities.

Unknown artists from the Olmec cultures

The Olmec culture is generally considered the first civilization of Mesoamerica, and as such, their origins and identity (including language, ethnic group, social organization, etc.) are a mystery. They inhabited Mexico’s southeastern Gulf coast lowlands, and their presence can be found as early as 1500 BCE, and by 300 BCE the culture had disappeared. The name “Olmec” (meaning “rubber people” in Nahuatl) was given by the Aztecs thousands of years after the civilization had died out. Objects including small figurines, masks, and jewelry carved in stone and jade have been found in burial sites. It is believed that art functioned to represent their spiritual connection with the natural and supernatural world.

Meyer Vaisman (Venezuela, b. 1960)

Meyer Vaisman is a multidisciplinary Venezuelan artist who deals with issues of authorship and appropriation through satire. In the 1980’s he became a leading figure of the neo-geo (neo-geometric conceptualism) movement in the downtown New York art scene alongside Ashley Bickerton, Jeff Koons, and Peter Halley. Vaisman gained recognition for simultaneously criticizing and celebrating mechanization, consumer culture, and the art market. His piece The Second Sex Change (1990) is based on a copy of a 16th-century Renaissance tapestry, Dragon Fighting with a Panther. The tapestry has been interpreted as a Christian allegory representing the battle between Christ and the devil. This morally charged image is challenged by Vaisman when he seamlessly incorporates a cartoon bubble with the text “A SEX CHANGE? A SEX CHANGE! . . . AH!, AH!, AH!” The altered tapestry is attached to a stretched sheet with a floral pattern that frames the work, continuing the floral motif from the tapestry and providing commentary on the readymade textile and its inclusion in bourgeois homes. 

Simon Vega (El Salvador, b. 1972)

Multidisciplinary artist from El Salvador, Simon Vega’s work focuses on the disparities between so-called first and second-world cultures. Outerspace colonial tropical suit (2021) is part of the ongoing Tropical Space Proyectos that Vega started a decade ago. This series comprises installations, sculptures, photographs, and drawings that comment on the Space Race using humor and irony. More specifically, these works allude to the effects that the Cold War had on El Salvador and its connection to the Salvadorian Civil War. Vega uses the self-made aesthetic, colors, and prints from the local market’s stand and vendor carts found in Central America, contrasting what the artist calls “happy poverty” with sophisticated space technology, highlighting the differences between the US and El Salvador.

Santiago Yahuarcani (Peru, b. 1960)

A northern Peru Huitoto artist and activist, Santiago Yahuarcani lives in the Amazon. The central theme of Yahuarani’s work is the lives and history of his community´s suffering and exploitation throughout the decades. He has stated that painting for him serves as a means of preserving the Huitoto people´s culture and allows them to remain in their Amazonian homeland. Yahuarani uses natural materials and pigments including llanchama, made of tree bark as a support for his painting. In Covid-19 devora la humanidad (Covid-19 devours humanity, 2020), the artist focuses on the pandemic’s impact on the indigenous communities, as well as on his own experience of the virus represented as a monster. In Parahua (2021) Yahuarcani depicts an actual steamship ferry that was owned by Naviera Amazónica Peruana S.A. Used to transport people as well as oil and timber, the ferry connected the indigenous population from the Peruvian Amazon to the rest of the country, that resulted in the decimation of their environment and culture.