This exhibition aims to open a space for conversation about the notions of migration, otherness and possibilities of transformation. It does so by bringing together artists from different geographical locations, socio-political perspectives and different moments in time, all of whom share an impulse to question the social constructions of power. Together, these disparate voices find spaces of convergence and divergence, creating a series of conversational layers which the public is invited to take part of.
The exhibition brings together new and previous works by artists and collectives of diverse origins —Pia Arke (Greenland-Denmark), Asco (United States), Sebastián Calfuqueo (Chile), Colectivo Charco (Chile), Mujeres Creando (Bolivia), Javier Téllez (Venezuela), Vladimir Tomic (Bosnia-Denmark) and Oreet Ashery (United Kingdom)— all of whom share a common impulse to question social orderings of power through the creation of moments of disruption; each moving towards new subjective positions.
By specifically selecting works which respond to conditions of marginalization, migration and exile, this exhibition poses the question for the possibility of challenging social hierarchies, defying the identities —in Brazilian educator and theoretician Paulo Freire’s words (Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970)— of “the oppressors” and “the oppressed” in the present, questioning where the possibilities of transforming this relation may lay and what they consist of. Can being in-between borders, as it becomes the “new normal” for more and more people, become the most powerful position for resisting and confronting conditions of oppression? This question is at the base of both this exhibition and the activities designed by the Public Programs staff at MSSA.
Pia Arke (b. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland) lived and worked in Copenhagen, Denmark. Arke was of Greenlandic and Danish origin and is recognised as one of the Nordic region’s most important postcolonial critics. Through photography, collage, video, installation and writing, Arke examines the places where she lived as a child and the historical colonial relationship between Denmark and Greenland. Her exhibitions and accompanying explanations encouraged Denmark to reexamine the colonial history of Greenland.
While she participated in a number of exhibitions during her lifetime, the first major exhibition of her work in Denmark did not take place until after her death with Tupilakosaurus at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art and The National Museum of Denmark in 2010, Copenhagen, Denmark. Arkes work has recently been shown and collected by museums including Louisiana, Copenhagen, Denmark; Brandts Museum of Art and Visual Culture, Odense, Denmark; and Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden.
Asco formed in the late 1960s in Los Angeles, California, USA, with the core founding members Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie F. Herron III and Patssi Valdez. The collective met as students in LA, whilst participating in the Chicano civil rights movement and contributing to major protests including the ‘Chicano Blow Out’ in 1968 and the ‘Chicano Moratorium’ in 1970. Between 1972 and 1987 Asco worked across performance, photography, film, and interventions in public space. They conducted unannounced actions using ephemeral, performative tactics to challenge the social and political inequalities that surrounded them in and around East Los Angeles. They looked both to their shared Mexican heritage for imagery whilst responding to current affairs, popular culture, and the transformation of oppressive Chicano stereotypes.
The first monographic exhibition of Asco, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, a retrospective 1972-1987, took place in 2012 at LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Williams College Museum of Art, USA, as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945–1980. Subsequently, the exhibition Asco: No Movies was held at Nottingham Contemporary, UK; touring to De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art of Bordeaux, France, all 2014. ASCO and Friends: Exiled Portraits, at Triangle France, Marseille, 2014, was co-produced with The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC). The work of Asco has also recently been exhibited in group exhibitions at Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool, UK; and at the Pompidou Centre, France. This is the first presentation of work by Asco in Chile.
Oreet Ashery lives and works in London, United Kingdom. She is an interdisciplinary visual artist with an unorthodox, multi-layered and eclectic practice spanning performance, situations, photography, moving image, assemblages, text, music and workshops. Ashery’s work confronts ideological, social and gender constructions within the fabric of personal and broader contemporary realities.
Ashery’s recent large scale projects include: Passing Through Metal, a sonic performance commissioned by LPS, Malmö, 2017; web-series Revisiting Genesis, commissioned by Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University London, and supported by the Wellcome Trust, 2016; The World is Flooding, a Tate Modern Turbine Hall performance re-enactment of Maiakovsky’s play ‘Mystery Bouffe’, 2014; and Party for Freedom, a moving-image album, concerts and performances commissioned by Artangel, London, 2013. Ashery has been shortlisted for The Jarman Award 2017 for her web series Revisiting Genesis, which reflects on digital afterlife industry and legacy, friendships and feminist art reincarnations.
Sebastián Calfuqueo (b. Santiago, Chile) lives and works in Santiago de Chile. Calfuqueo is of Mapuche descent and in his work he takes his cultural heritage as a point of departure in order to propose a reflection on the social, cultural and political status of the Mapuche subject within Chilean society today. His works include installation, performance and video. In order to explore cultural similarities and differences between indigenous and westernised ways of thinking.
Recent exhibitions include solo presentations at Metropolitan Gallery and MAC Museum of Contemporary Art, Quinta Normal, in Santiago de Chile.
Charco. Since 2015, artists Cristian Inostroza (b. Santiago, Chile) Francisco González Castro (b. Santiago, Chile), Paula Urizar (b. Punta Arenas) and art theorist Lucy Quezada (b. Santiago, Chile) have been collaborating as Charco collective. They live and work in Chile, both regionally and in the capital.
The group formed March 2015 in direct response to severe flooding in the Atacama Region in the north of Chile, where several villages including Chañaral, Tierra Amarilla or El Salado were lost to the floods. They adopted the name ‘Charco’ in response to the crisis, as an act of commemoration and solidarity. Through performative actions both in public and institutional spaces, Charco continue to construct a critical visual language in response to contemporary conditions of precarity; developing a body of work that operates in the spaces between art, education and social change.
Javier Téllez was born in Valencia, Venezuela. He Lives and works in New York. In his installations, films and videos Téllez combines documentary and fiction to question established definitions of normality and pathology in society. The son of two psychiatrists, he describes his films and performances as ‘passports that allow those who are outside, to be inside’. His works are often created in close collaboration with psychiatric patients, the disabled and the socially vulnerable, aiming to challenge the stereotypes associated with mental illness whilst giving a voice to those who are marginalised or disenfranchised. In this way Téllez’s work becomes a form of resistance to the normalisation and homogenisation that is characteristic of dominant discourses, blurring the boundaries between creativity and disorder.
Solo exhibitions include Shadow Play, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, 2015; Games are forbidden in the labyrinth, REDCAT, LA, USA, 2014; Praise of Folly, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, 2013; Javier Tellez, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, 2005. His work has been shown in group exhibitions internationally, including Under the Same Sun, South London Gallery, London, UK; Bedlam, Wellcome Trust, London, UK, both 2016; Rational / Irrational at HKW, Berlin, Germany, 2008; Letter on the Blind, For the Use of Those Who See, MoMA PS1, New York; La extraccion de la piedra de la locura [The Extraction of the Stone of Madness], Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela, 1996; as well as participating in Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012; Manifesta, Trento, Italy; Sydney Biennial; and Whitney Biennial, New York, all 2008; and the Venice Biennale, 2001 and 2003.
Mujeres Creando. Founded in La Paz in 1992 by the activist María Galindo (b. La Paz, Bolivia), Mujeres Creando is an internationalist movement of working women (domestic workers, prostitutes, poets, journalists, market sellers, artists, dressmakers, teachers etc). For over two decades Mujeres Creando have worked in solidarity for the rights of women and social minorities on the streets of La Paz, Bolivia; acting against patriarchal norms via the circulation of zines, graffiti, interventions in public space, workshops and a pirate radio station named Radio Deseo.
Mujeres Creando respond to their immediate context in Bolivia, but as they fight against oppressive patriarchal systems their actions and thinking become universal. They continue to open spaces of visibility and uncover others with their bodies, in the street, in the mass media and in international contemporary art spaces. In 2014 Mujeres Creando participated in the 31 Sao Paolo Biennial with the project ‘Espacio para abortar’ [Space to Abort], which created a platform for discussion around the meaning of abortion, free choice, the right to decide and freedom of conscience in contemporary democracies; especially in South American countries where abortion is illegal and penalised. More recently, in 2017 Maria Galindo was invited to participate in the Parliament of Bodies with Paul B. Preciado at Documenta 14, Athens.
Vladimir Tomic (b. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia) is a filmmaker and visual artist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. His work exists between contemporary art and experimental documentary. Tomic grew up in Sarajevo and came to Denmark at the age of 12 during Yugoslavia War in the early 1990’s. Inspired by universal and human tensions, for example between the individual identity and the changing structure of the society, his work draws on his own personal experiences or first-hand observations.
Tomic’s work has been shown in Love at Last Sight, IAC Inter Arts Center, Malmö, Sweden, 2017; Anthology Film Archives in collaboration with ICP- International Center of Photography and Goethe Institute, New York, 2017; The Great Migration, UGM, Maribor Art Gallery, Maribor, Slovenia, 2016; Your Danish is Good, SixtyEight Art Institute; Fokus Video Art Festival, Nikolaj Centre for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016. Tomic’s work has been shown at many film festivals and has received numerous awards including Tagesspiegel Readers Prize and Jury Special Mention – Peace Film Prize at the Berlinale in 2015; The Social Awareness Award – Best Documentary, Crossing Europe, Linz, Austria, 2016 and Amnesty International Award, Lisboa, Portugal, 2015.