El Museo del Barrio and the School of Visual Arts, two revered New York art institutions, unite in a landmark group show comprised of SVA MFA alumni of Latin American descent, and many of whom have participated in El Museo’s biennials over the years. The exhibit which is simply titled ‘elmuseo@SVA’, weaves a multi-generational narrative told through a variety of disciplines: installation, video, sculpture, photography, painting, drawings, and collage. Acting as cultural observers, the artists gather, produce and present aspects of contemporary urban life, the body, identity, gender, space and architecture. The thirteen featured artists are decades apart in age, some are US born or hail from abroad, yet reveal engaging perspectives on what it means to be a working Latino artist in New York. The diversity of voices found in the show serve to enhance and strengthen the spectrum of the contemporary art landscape in Chelsea.
Manuel Acevedo, SVA ’02, employs projection, flipbook animation, drawing and photography to explore public spaces, community and city life in the urban realm. In the drawing ‘WTC Tropism’, originating from a polaroid he altered, Acevedo creates a re-imagined World Trade Center tower. The structure is whimsical and otherworldly, adding a layer of fantasy to the former Ground Zero, a site solely associated with terrorism and destruction. In ‘Untitled’, pictured above, an abstract geometric configuration coupled with a striking black, white, and red color palette speaks to New York’s daily grind. The composition can be interpreted as a metaphor for the city’s meticulous grid system and the complex journey city dwellers face navigating New York day-to-day. For Acevedo, a Newark native now living in the Bronx, dissecting urbanization is second nature, but he is also deeply drawn to socio-economic issues that affect underserved communities.
Originally from Texas, performance artist and writer Élan Jurado, SVA’12, adds a titillating ingredient to the exhibit. He unabashedly uses his body as a mechanical instrument to perform ritualistic exercises, all of which he documents through video. Jurado shockingly pushes his body beyond its physical limits through repetitive and exerted movements. His actions border on the comical, the tender, the vulgar, and the slightly pornographic. In previous works such as ‘Awkward Propeller’, he swings his phallus around to mimic the motorized rhythm of a jet propeller, similarly in ‘Cock Rock’, he plays air guitar while holding the tip of his flaccid penis. In more recent works from 2015, Jurado urinates through the hole of a Cheerio, attempting to both astound and disgust the viewer. In ‘To the Eye’ (video still featured above), Jurado ferociously wraps his head in duct tape close to the point of suffocation, executed in a fast-paced flurried manner.
Chilean artist Denise Treizman, SVA ’13, draws upon the excessive aspects of consumer culture that permeate her everyday life – leading her to fabricate witty and inventive sculptures. Treizman, who is NYC-based, sources found and readymade objects at random, pairing them with unorthodox materials – such as clay, sand, spray paint and neon – to design cheery and playful sculptures. The works are bright, psychedelic and undeniably fun to interact with. Using New York City as her playground, Treizman’s sculptural works (as some are street-staged) in a sense become ‘toys’ that she shares with spectators for engagement and intrigue. At the 2015 AIM Biennial ‘Bronx Calling’, Treizman’s piece ‘Hot Dogs No More’, was a repurposed a large hot dog cart umbrella with streaks of spray paint, evoking nostalgic memories of summers in the city. Treizman’s practice also extends into installation, which in the past have resembled kaleidoscopic rec rooms – containing a cornucopia of kitsch and glossy surfaces that shine – spaces that seem to burst with neon glow. In ‘Half Moon Fence’, pictured above, the metal sculpture resembles a charming rendition of a baby gate, the accents of colored sand and vibrant chunks of clay add to the playfulness of the piece.
Native New Yorker Diana Santiago, SVA’08, communicates autobiographical sentiments of Latina identity and femininity through photography, painting, and drawing. In her photographs young women dressed in lingerie and pretty frocks, lounge around in domestic settings while interacting with one another, revealing a sense of intimacy and communion. Her paintings continue down this line (since many are based from her photographs), as seen in ‘Bathroom Contemplation #1’, detailing the emotional relationship between a young daughter as she delicately strokes her mother’s pregnant belly. In her drawings pictured above and below, the colloquial titles of the works reference Spanish idioms that are commonly heard growing up in Latin households. In ‘De Tal Palo, Tal Astilla’ and ‘La Abundancia Mata La Gana’, Santiago a depicts curvaceous female bejeweled and coiffed to perfection, possibly a reflection of herself or an ode to an elegant matriarchal figure.
Participating artists include: Manuel Acevedo ’02 | Soledad Arias ’02 | Vladimir Cybil Charlier ’93| Guido Garaycochea ’15| Alejandro Guzman ’09| Erik Shorrock Guzman ’03| Elisabeth Jobim ’92 | Elan Jurado ’12| Cynthia Rojas ’03| Diana Santiago ’08 | Denise Treizman ’13| K.C. Tidemand ’15 | Juana Valdes ’93
Curated by Rocio Aranda -Alvarado
‘elmuseo@SVA’ will be on view from Jan 16 – Feb 20
SVA Chelsea Gallery
601 West 26th Street, 15th Floor, NYC