Ser todo Es ser parte / To Be Whole Is To Be Part
June 17 @ 7:00 pm - August 16 @ 6:00 pm
June 17–August 16, 2020
Curated by Selene Preciado
This exhibition brings together a group of artists working fluidly within historical and contemporary traditions of drawing, illustration, graphic arts (including printmaking), street art, and muralism. Above all, these artists are connected by a seemingly shared aesthetic language, which is their depiction of hybrid beings that are part human, part zoomorphic pre-Columbian deities, or fully mutant gods walking on this earth, here and now. The concepts of the “Now” and the “Past” are crucial for bringing these artists together. Much of the work that has been produced within this aesthetic language of combining pre-Columbian iconography with contemporary imagery and themes, often projects into the future—perhaps longing for the promised future of a “cosmic race”—and foreshadow, in turn, a futuristic post-colonial utopia of a hybrid civilization that merges a cosmic future with our ancestral past. Nonetheless, the point where the past and the future converge is in the present, and this instant feels quite dystopic.
Hand in hand with our hope for a futuristic utopia, we are faced with ideas that attempt to explain or justify our current subaltern diasporic condition, here and now. Nepantla, Third Space, Heterotopia, are terms that are used to disrupt our colonial understanding of place and identity, offering—and validating—spaces of liminality or in-between that allow resistance and transgression; even our existence. However, for a true deconstruction or reconfiguration of our post-colonial present, it feels urgent to reclaim, defy, and disrupt, our existence in a re-inscribed present. Resistance implies a constant push and pull, a negotiation of a power dynamic that is very palpable. Studying the scenes and characters that will inhabit the works of this exhibition, a common thread is that these beings seem to live in the here and now, in a dialectic temporality informed by the past and the future. They unfold and collapse time and space. They eat the past, the future, themselves, and digest it to transform place and identity into collectivism—a collectivity formed with others as collective selves. These people live in realities that are not imagined futures, but alternative presents with evolved symbols and iconography. In this moment in time utopia and heterotopia are not enough.
Using speculative fiction as a way to decolonize theory, this exhibition proposes a non-linear interpretation of time and place through narrative. Departing from an impetus of reclaiming this current moment and our presence in it, the title and framework of this exhibition are inspired by the concept of “the return,” not as nostalgia for an alleged better past, nor to an ancestral home, but the return as a continuous voyage of the collective self; a voyage which is cyclical, an ourboros. To have traveled and continue to travel from utopia to dystopia and back, but with a sense of evolved consciousness, that informs our present and our territories. The 1974 novel The Dispossesed, Ursula K. Le Guin hides in plain sight the core of her story, in an epitaph that reads: “To be whole is to be part; true voyage is return.” The title of this project takes the first section of this statement to represent the intersection of themes, iconography, and subversion of concepts of time, identity, gender, and sexuality, in the work of the artists in the exhibition.