Flipping Through Portadores de sentidoThursday, May 9, 2019
On the occasion of the exhibition Portadores de sentido – Contemporary Art from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros at the Museo Amparo in Puebla, Mexico (February–July 2019), the CPPC published a catalogue (downloadable as a PDF), which was designed by Estudio Herrera, and contains images and object entries for each artwork. The exhibition, curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, with the assistance of Sara Meadows, brings together 70 contemporary artists from 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean whose works were acquired by the CPPC between 1990 and 2015. The artworks are organized in the museum, and in the publication, according to four disciplines which have informed the artworks: Insertions (ethnography and its theories); Excursions (analysis of geography; Concrete Environments (implication of urbanism); and Mediations (media and mass communication). The artwork texts were written by CPPC team members: Carrie Cooperider, Mariana Barrera Pieck and Sara Meadows. A selection of these artwork entries is republished here.
The notion of territory is central to Manuela Ribadeneira’s art practice. Employing a wide variety of media, she addresses the arbitrary nature of borders, as well as their political, cultural, and historical implications. Ribadeneira’s work is generally connected to Ecuador, and to Latin America more generally. Her geographic distance from her home country layers the conversation on boundaries with ideas about national identity and people’s relationship to place.
One Meter of the Equator materializes the imaginary line that divides the planet into north and south. The work allegedly comprises 40,076,000 objects—the numerical equivalent of the meters that make up the Equatorial line. Although the Equator passes through many countries, Ecuador takes particular pride in its geographic location, physically marking the dividing line in a national park just outside of Quito. The metric system derives from measurements of the quadrant of the Earth’s meridian circle that were made in the eighteenth century by a French expedition in what is now Ecuador. The country was named after the line in 1830. However, with the development of new technologies in cartography, the precise location of the line is in dispute. The box in One Meter of the Equator has the appearance of an archival encasement meant for the preservation of an important or sentimental object, yet its emptiness speaks to the absurdity of borders and their demarcation.
In Tiwintza Mon Amour Ribadeneira brings attention to a territorial dispute between Ecuador and Peru that began in the early nineteenth century with independence from Spain. The countries disputed the location of the division of the colonial territories and, in 1998, agreed to allow an international commission to determine where the national border should be. The commission sided with the Peruvian thesis, and, as consolation, Ecuador was granted a one-kilometer square of non-sovereign property deep within the Peruvian jungle called Tiwintza. Ribadeneira’s sculpture is a 1:100 scale model of this patch of rainforest. In recalling this territorial conflict, the artist views ideas of possession and conquest through a contemporary lens, and in placing the section of land on a platform with wheels she highlights the fragility and ephemerality of political boundaries.
The tiny gold pieces that make up Regina José Galindo’s Looting are the record of a performance in which a dentist inserted eight fillings of pure Guatemalan gold into the artist’s molars. Galindo then traveled from her native Guatemala to Berlin, where a German doctor extracted the fillings.
In her performance-based practice, Galindo often uses her body in provocative ways to confront persistent political and social problems. The extraction of the precious metal from the artist’s mouth emulates the violence and exploitation that surround largescale mining programs in Guatemala, and it leads the viewer to consider the legacy of colonial domination and its commodity-driven power relations.
Ana María Millán inserts her perspective into the narrative space of film and video. She is interested in amateur cultural production because of its imperfections and the possibilities they contain, its connection to local and marginal groups, and its tense relationship with official narratives of representation.
For La pieza ensayo Millán reconstructed recordings of castings and rehearsals made for Carlos Mayolo’s Aquel 19 from 1985. Mayolo was one of the main directors of the “Caliwood” movement, a group of young filmmakers who emerged in the early 1970s in a country that lacked a film industry. They responded to the counterculture spirit that prevailed in a context affected by violence and drug trafficking and were dedicated to filming and telling stories based on the environment that surrounded them. Aquel 19, a short film produced for regional television audiences, is a love story that takes place in 1965 in the Obrero neighborhood of Cali. Two teenagers in love, Alberto and Rosa, work to circumvent Rosa’s protective father who considers Alberto a delinquent.
La pieza ensayo was made in collaboration with Eduardo Carvajal, who was the cinematographer of the Caliwood generation. Carvajal provided the audition and rehearsal tapes, which Millán edited to make this three-channel installation. Her sequential cuts of the two women who act as Rosa demonstrate their very different portrayals of the character, highlighting the actors’ subjective interpretations. In reworking the archival material, Millán illuminates the themes of sexuality, violence, and exclusion in the original film.
Animation by Zach Hyman.