OBITUARIES OF THE AMERICAN DREAM IN EL MUSEO DEL BARRIO’S TRIEANAL “ESTAMOS BIEN”
New York - Lasting until next year, the museum's first national large-scale survey of Latinx contemporary art debuts with online artists' projects.
Announced in July, ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21 features more than 40 artists from across the United States and Puerto Rico. Curated by El Museo del Barrio's Chief Curator Rodrigo Moura and Curator Susanna V. Temkin, with New York-based artist Elia Alba as Guest Curator, the show, now a yearlong initiative, debuts with online projects by artists Lizania Cruz, Xime Izquierdo Ugaz, Collective Magpie, Michael Menchaca, and Poncilí Creación. Related public programs featuring curators, artists, invited scholars and other guests will take place throughout the year.
"This exhibition is the result of intensive research conducted over the course of a year by the curatorial team throughout the country. ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21 takes the pulse of artistic production by Latinx artists at a time when a show like this is more relevant than ever," explains Moura.
ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21 expands its scope to a national scale, including artists from California, Texas, Florida, Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, as well as from the Tristate Area. Utilizing an intersectional approach to Latinx identity, the Curatorial team has selected artists who represent a diversity of generations, genders, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.
This first iteration of La Trienal borrows its title, ESTAMOS BIEN, from the work of participating artist Candida Alvarez. Her painting Estoy Bien (2017) takes its title from the resilient and obliquely sarcastic response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Now pluralized, the phrase resonates with the present-day moment, as the works in the exhibition address issues of race and identity politics, gentrification and displacement, climate change, as well as the particular effects of the global pandemic to Latinx and other BIPOC populations.
"This landmark exhibition demonstrates El Museo del Barrio's commitment to championing the voices, stories and lived experiences of Latinx artists in the United States. We invite audiences to challenge established truths, unpack authentic narratives, and see themselves reflected in the works of art presented," asserts Patrick Charpenel, Executive Director, El Museo del Barrio.
ONLINE ARTISTS' PROJECTS
"Our current moment has made us all increasingly aware of the importance of online access and communication. Launched in advance of the onsite exhibition, these digital projects reflect artists' response to urgent issues: the effects of the global pandemic, race, the U.S. census, as well as the upcoming election," says Temkin.
Employing a hybrid approach, ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21 starts off with a selection of online artist projects which are fully accessible to the public. The digital projects span live performances; an interactive social platform; a photographic archive; a participatory survey; and video. The series began on July 23rd with Lizania Cruz's Obituaries of The American Dream, a participatory project that considers how the ideal's roots in individualism and hard work pertains to U.S. society today, especially in the context of a pandemic. The project invites participants, locally and globally, non-im/migrants and im/migrants, to share testimonies of when and how the American Dream died for them.
In Cruz’s project, the American Dream is defined as the ideal that all individuals can achieve upward mobility based on their hard work. As stated by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book The Epic America, “all [individuals] should have access to this opportunity according to ability or achievement.” This ideal has proliferated globally and is rooted in the aspiration of individual wealth instead of community well-being. Furthermore, it negates the legacy of enslavement, structural racism, and patriarchy that are foundational to the United States as a nation. The hope of this project is not only to grieve an ideal but to reimagine the role of work, interdependency for community wellbeing, and government welfare in the creation of a new ideal.