June 14, 2013

POSTED BY

Rafael Esquer

CATEGORY

El Museo’s Bienal 2013: HERE IS WHERE WE JUMP

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Khinatown, 2001. Ignacio González-Lang This week I was invited to the opening of El Museo’s Bienal 2013: Here Is Where We Jump. The 7th biennial exhibition features the work of 37 emerging Latino and Latin American artists who live and work in New York City metropolitan area. Like many biennials, …

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Khinatown, 2001. Ignacio González-Lang

This week I was invited to the opening of El Museo’s Bienal 2013: Here Is Where We Jump. The 7th biennial exhibition features the work of 37 emerging Latino and Latin American artists who live and work in New York City metropolitan area. Like many biennials, Here Is Where We Jump, is also uneven, that is, few pieces are truly great, some are good, some are ok and couple are questionable.

Amongst the midst of a lively and stylish crowd I made my way through the show. The artists, works, methods and processes are quite diverse: From Chile to Guatemala to Puerto Rico, from traditional methods to experimental media and from emerging themes to expected ones, the galleries showcasing paintings, drawings, video, sculpture, installations and performances depict an accurate portrait of the vibrant Latino art scene in New York City.

There were few pieces that stand out for me including the works of Puerto Rican-born Ignacio González-Lang. His piece Guess Who?/Adivina quién?, 2013 (shown below) “…consists of news clippings of police sketches that have appeared in New York City media over the last three years. Also called facial composites, these sketches are visual representations of an eyewitness’s verbal testimony. The drawings are made public and circulated by the media to crowdsource information about the offenders. The work is a matrix of 100 images, each representing a different crime and perpetrators, paired up as look alikes and doppelgangers to reveal the unreliability of drawings and memory. Existing on the slippery terrain between private and public, and the subjective, these drawings trigger political, ethical, and psychological questions.”

The other piece that has stayed with me ever since the opening is Khinatown (2011) also by González-Lang. As I saw this black suit from across the room, there was something mysterious, dark, and seductive about it which instinctively made me get closer to explore it. At first, it looked like an Alexander McQueen couture piece. Khinatown is savagely beautiful yet admiring it makes you slightly uncomfortable. I quickly realized the piece was really an embellished KKK robe. “Khinatown continues the investigation of the production of artworks in the black-market. The black robe used in this work is called “the Knighthawk,” is meant to be worn by the security officer within the hierarchy of the Ku Klux Klan. It was purchased online from an anonymous merchant in Upstate New York and then embroidered by a group of undocumented workers in Chinatown, New York. Chinatown is historically known as a neighborhood for counterfeit products as well as a place of employment for immigrants. The total number of stitches adds up to approximately half a million, a number that also represents the significant demographic of undocumented workers currently present in New York City.” For me, this piece alone makes the trip to El Museo absolutely worth it.

El Museo’s Bienal 2013: HERE IS WHERE WE JUMP
Begins: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Ends: Saturday, January 4, 2014

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Guess who?/Adivina quién?, 2013. Ignacio González-Lang
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Suave chapina, 2007. Benvenuto Chavajay
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El macrafono/The Microphone, 2009. Bernardo Navarro Tomás
A dios, 2012. Edgar Serrano
A dios, 2012. Edgar Serrano

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