From March 24 to May 7, 2016, EFA Project Space brings together seven artists from Mexico, Spain, Chile and the U.S., to participate in the exhibition A Certain Urge (Towards Turmoil).
Curated by Blanca de la Torre,.A Certain Urge (Towards Turmoil) exists along a fault-line of shaky utopian dreams. Rising from anxieties caused by the perpetual possibility of societal disaster, the show reflects on a past and present connected through turmoil. These artists employ poeticized tactics of disruption to draw out hypocrisies within dominant sociopolitical systems, and undermine the tight grip of political dogma. Active agents in their local communities, while contributing to essential international discourse, the artists are in dialogue with each other as they present previous work alongside work created for the exhibition. Through sculpture, installation, performance and intervention, A Certain Urge (Towards Turmoil) evokes a space to imagine versions of the world yet unattained.
As some of these artists investigate the imprint of past histories on present events, Cynthia Gutiérrez analyzes the inaccuracy of memory and transience of history. Blending historical fact and fiction, Gutiérrez creates Waltz of the Abyss, a group of sculptural headless chickens that rise out of pre-existing cultural narratives to traverse the exhibition space – alluding to the reoccurring metaphor of the detached head from its corresponding body.
While Gutiérrez creates contemporary readings of historical eras through delicate formal resolutions, Nuria Güell takes an unmitigated approach, testing boundaries of art and activism with her readings on identity, abuse and complicity. Her work questions institutional ethics and suggests alternative methodologies. For this exhibition,she collaborates with American war veteran Michael Prysner on an educational critique of aggressive military recruitment practices in a workshop with high school students.
Avelino Sala and Joaquín Segura are both fascinated by the materiality of dissent and the ontology of conflict, each employing artistic meditations on the contradictions of sociopolitical agendas. Sala acts as instigator, using art to formally question contemporary social consciousness. From the view of late capitalism, he presents The Catchers, a suspended Calder-esque mobile, creating a constellation of baseball gloves joined by golden rods. Suggesting that human beings look for a balance in a crumbling system–for a position of resistance against the dominant class, the gloves display the names of the Forbes 2015 billionaire list. While Sala’s re-imaginations with found cultural objects relay a satirical, biting humor, Segura’s representations are sober and sublime, meditating on the phenomenology of violence, sociopolitical microclimates, and asymmetrical history. An Act of Abuse of Power is from a series of “erased” banners procured from Mexican protestors. Segura whitewashes the messages on these banners’ ranging slogans, stressing the futility and the small impact Mexican demonstrations, often organized by corrupt unions, have on established superstructures. The object that results is intended to evoke politicized pictorial practice, reflecting on language and its ephemeral yet contingent relationship to social interactions.
As One of Eleven Million, Chloë Bass & George Scheer confront the ineffectual flood of political discourse against the ever-worsening refugee crisis in Syria. Their 18’-long banner is a timeline of front-page New York Times headlines regarding the Syria crisis between August 21st, 2013 (the date of the Ghouta chemical attack) and December 7th, 2015 (the date of Donald Trump’s speech calling for a ban on all Muslim immigrants to the United States). Through the use of highlighted verbs, their banner emphasizes the language of movement, action and empathy in direct contrast to the continuous rise of refugee and displaced Syrians.
Manuela Viera-Gallo speaks to the flows of immigrant movement through sculptural installations that use her immigrant experience as the point of departure. Constant Movement challenges the border of the collective imagination, representing frontiers as open or closed movements. Emigrants and immigrants in search of a better future create a circle where the point of arrival is that of departure. Referencing traditions of ancient witchery, each object resembles an aggressive spiked trap: a spinning orbit of the boundaries of desire as a dangerous frontier concealing an empty treasure.