Online Video Exhibition: La Luz Entre Nosotros, curated by Julio César Morales
Part I: Available to stream February 23–March 28, 2021
With works by Iván Argote, Tania Candiani, Miguel Angel Ríos, and Thiago Roca Pitta
The program was conceived from a dream I had early in the pandemic in which I tried to hug someone and they slapped me for coming too close. That visceral anxiety has not waned over the last year. Our bodies continue to be separated, limited in our ability to occupy intimate space with one another. The titles refer to the light that now perpetually shines between us as we keep our distance, at once illuminating and casting shadow. During a time of great uncertainty and opposition, the two-part video program looks to leading voices in contemporary art to cast light on our commonalities and encourage reflection on where we go from here. The videos address issues of labor, migration, loss, intimacy, and our relationship to the environment, both psychological and physical.
Tania Candiani has long been interested in Acoustic Ecology—the study of relationships between humans and our environment mediated through sound. A poetic text by Candiani, narrated by writer and MacArthur fellow Josh Kun, is featured in this 3-channel video, 'For the Animals' (2020). The artist’s research for the project was primarily visual: scanning, sampling and borrowing from books, vintage videos and images all informed her process. Through the shared experience of sound between animals and humans, this project encourages the visitor to ask questions: How are humans shaped by borders? How would a border wall impact the natural migration patterns of local animals and their ability to thrive? And similarly, humans’ ability to thrive? The video explores an understanding of borders—visible and not—from many different perspectives including psychological, geographical, physical, and metaphysical.
Iván Argote’s film 'As Far As We Could Get' (2019) is an experimental documentary that flirts with fictional elements. It is filmed between two cities that are exact antipodes (two geographical points connected by a straight line running through the center of the Earth): Palembang, Indonesia and Neiva, Colombia. Argote’s research led him to working with youth from both countries that were born on the day in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. Alternating almost as a call and response between the two cities, the film captures globalized youth cultures at play. Argote set out to investigate what he calls “profound feelings,” which are based on personal histories related to key cultural events. Switching back and forth between the two locations, his footage ended up capturing more similarities than differences, revealing a globalized reality where notions of economy both informal and formal collide.
Miguel Angel Ríos’ new short film 'Endless' (2020), making its premier in this program, was shot near the Mexican town of Tepoztlan from 2014 to 2020. This period is when the “migrant crisis” of people immigrating from Mexico and Central American countries to the United States became an important political issue between the United States and Mexico. Within these years there was a huge rise in the number of unattended children and youth fleeing countries where criminal gangs have arisen from the ashes of the CIA led wars against communism during the ’80s and ’90s. Deportation rates also grew exponentially in the United States, and ultimately led, by former U.S. president Trump, to extreme right-wing voices moving from the fringes of politics to the center of power—with an imaginary wall at the heart of this power grab. Rios’ usage of “montage” confronts us again and again with a number of walls made out of interweaved dried branches of Huisache (Acacia farnesiana), which are hand-made with 98-foot labyrinthic parallel walls that move, sway, and almost threaten a human crowd—creating a void between them, as it references man-made borders. The violent soundtrack of confined human voices and montage process into a crescendo, then Endless departs into the credits.
Consistently working with elements of fire, water, air, and salt, Tiago Rocha Pitta’s interventions into the environment evoke poetic gestures that leave us with a sense of longing. His time-based experiments with nature and materiality question our inability to respect our natural environment. Over the course of the current pandemic, we’ve witnessed nature “moving in” to our urban centers: wild javelinas, coyotes, and coatis roaming around the entrances of empty Chase Banks, or the mythical dolphins swimming in the now less polluted Venice canals without a tourist in sight. The artist’s video practice includes works of small boats at sea, that are either on fire, as in Homage to W. Turner (2004), or distressed and floating upside down, as in Youth (2006). In the work in this program, 'Heritage' (2007), we see two small trees floating alone in the ocean, prompting the question, what does it mean to never see land or to never reach a destination that is needed to survive? The open-ended video leaves us with a feeling of an ominous future.
– Julio César Morales