ABSENCE/PRESENCE: LATINX AND LATIN AMERICAN ARTISTS IN DIALOGUE AT ANOTHER SPACE NEW YORK
Guest curated by independent curator and art historian Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and produced by ANOTHER SPACE, the exhibition examines the dynamics of exclusion and violence affecting Latinx and Latin Americans, as well as artists’ strategies to embody justice and creative and personal freedom. Featuring artists from twelve different countries, diverse ethnicities, and multiple generations in a conversation around three intersecting themes: affectivity, justice and self/being
Taking a decolonizing approach, Absence/Presence presents works by 37 artists from the Caribbean, Central and South America, as well as artists of Latin American/Caribbean descent born or residing in the U.S. Challenging conventional representations of Latinx and Latin American identity, the exhibition examines the system of forced absence and conditional presence, as well as a history of creative and poetic presence beyond societal restrictions. In addition to documenting violence and oppression, Absence/Presence highlights the participating artists’ shared legacy of political activism, artistic experimentation, and their search for alternative, decolonized futures.
Addressing absence in its most literal sense, some artists in the exhibition denounce the policies of deportations, family separations, incarceration and other forms of state violence deployed against Latinx and Latin American communities. The viewer is confronted with the plights of migrants risking their lives to enter the United States as well as with poetic reminders of police abuse and other violent traits employed by law enforcement officials.
In other works, “absence” is understood as “invisibility.” In recent photographs, William Camargo honors the various generations of anonymous workers that represent the backbone of local economies. Other artists such as Jay Lynn Gomez (formerly Ramiro Gomez) and Narsiso Martinez bring visibility and celebrate the humanity of underrepresented laborers such as pool cleaners, housemaids, farmworkers and undocumented workers performing essential labor.
While many of the artists in the exhibition challenge discrimination, racism, and violence in relatively direct ways, others affirm their presence through desire and affectivity, as well as a focus on the body and the self. With works from the 80’s and 90’s, as well as recent pieces, some artists in the exhibition choose to analyze the relationship between the self and health, and how social views play a part in this dynamic.
In this sense, other artists defy restrictive patriarchal notions of gender by celebrating brown women, trans, and indigenous bodies in realms where they have traditionally been excluded, such as boxing and fashion magazines. While others, such as Sophie Rivera’s multiple exposure photographs of children, and María José Arjona’s performance-based photos blur the space that separate and divide individuals in an affirmative act of unity and dissolution of differences.
As Estrellita B. Brodsky comments, “ANOTHER SPACE was founded on the mission of bringing awareness to the art of Latin America and artists of Latin American descent in the United States. I am very pleased to present this exhibition curated by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, a leading authority in the field and a curator whose work I have long admired. This exhibition not only underscores the relative ‘absence’ of Latinx and Latin American voices from the art historical canon, but also encourages a long overdue discussion about issues of racism and discrimination. Absence/Presence highlights the critical role artists play in shaping this conversation to one of inclusion rather than exclusion.”
“At a time of increasing polarization and heightened racial tensions, this exhibition proposes a much-needed dialogue around representation, participation and inclusion” notes the curator, Fajardo-Hill. “While it deals with injustice and oppression, it also looks at poetic justice and the beauty to counter it. Latinx and Latin American artists don’t only share a history of violence and a colonial past, but also a sophisticated and ongoing legacy of artistic experimentation and political imagination. With this exhibition, I am interested in exploring some of these experiments with resistance, decolonization, and existential and creative freedom.”
Featuring: Laura Aguilar, María José Arjona, William Camargo, Josely Carvalho, Carolina Caycedo, William Cordova, María Adela Díaz, Marcos Dimas, Dominique Duroseau, Christina Fernandez, Coco Fusco, Regina Galindo, Jay Lynn Gomez, Ken Gonzales-Day, Alicia Grullón, Martine Gutierrez, Hudinilson Jr., Magali Lara, Antonio Manuel, Guadalupe Maravilla, Narsiso Martinez, Patrick Martinez, Ana Mendieta, Joiri Minaya, Delilah Montoya, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Claudia Peña Salinas, Claudio Perna, Manuel Antonio Pichillá, Sophie Rivera, Sandy Rodriguez, Miguel Ángel Rojas, Francisco Toledo, unknown: pre-Columbian Huari hat, Juana Valdes, Patssi Valdez, Patricia Valencia.
ANOTHER SPACE is a not for profit program established by the Daniel and Estrellita B. Brodsky Family Foundation. Founded by art historian and collector Estrellita B. Brodsky, the program is dedicated to building recognition and international awareness of artists from Latin America and of Latin heritage living in the United States.
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