Art history rarely moves in a straight line. Now more than ever, when it comes to a collective notion of Latin American art, there are as many ways to approach it as there are to traversing its nineteen countries and territories. Steering clear of a generalized survey of the region, we choose a more personal path by compiling works from Latin American artists that inspired us throughout our journey over the last decade, bringing to the fore the works, artists, and conversations that we couldn’t possibly forget.
First Day of Good Weather takes as its inspiration and starting point conversations that happened in and around Despacio. While it is true that personal dialogues can result in a filtered perception of reality—the filters as well as the perception being both highly subjective—that same subjectivity seems to be an essential ingredient for a truly independent art space. There are no set guidelines, just a vision that is focused through the discourse of like-minded peers.
The exhibition features artworks by sixteen artists from Central America, the majority of whom have never before shown their work in Germany. Also included are thirteen more Latin American artists who have been at the center of extensive dialogues detailing their profound influence on entire generations of artists, from Mexico’s Rio Grande to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego.
Spanning multiple genres and ranging in tone from political to humorous, the works transcend the immediate allure of the exotic to reveal the contagious spirit of curiosity. The artistic propositions are often balancing acts between everyday life and what it means to be an artist in Latin American society—a society which has a long history of wrestling with local and global political crises, colonial capitalism, abuse of power, and the struggles of subsisting day to day.
Art is critical thinking—building an awareness of the inner workings of the mind. But art is also making sense of the situations we find ourselves in. It helps us to accept that there is not such a thing as a single current reality, but rather a myriad of perceptions that together comprise our collective reality. The sum of all of these works is, therefore, much more like a fluid conceptualization of Latin America and its art than it is a static definition.
First Day of Good Weather takes visitors back to where everything began: the conversations with artists that sent our thoughts flying into space to return in new and unusual configurations that would culminate in more than fifty exhibitions and projects over the last decade. The exhibition is a voyage of discovery through the artistic territory of Latin America, far off the beaten path of exotic fantasies, dealing instead with specific experiences and contexts that exist in constant states of evolution. We wait, ever watchful, after each rainy season for that first day of good weather to begin our explorations all over again.
Thoughts by Sandino Scheidegger
The group exhibition opens on January 13th and runs through March 11th, 2017 at Sies + Höke in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Participating Artists: Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Alejandro Almanza Pereda, Iván Argote, Sol Calero, Javier Calvo, Luis Camnitzer, Benvenuto Chavajay, Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker, Alejandro de la Guerra, Melissa Guevara, Federico Herrero, Walterio Iraheta, Alfredo Jaar, Regina José Galindo, Aníbal López, Teresa Margolles, Adrian Melis, Ronald Morán, Rivane Neuenschwander, Yoshua Okón, Liliana Porter, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Abigail Reyes, Crack Rodríguez, Gabriel Rodríguez, Tercerunquinto, Adán Vallecillo, and Guillermo Vargas Habacuc.
Photo credits and copyright: Images of the art works courtesy of the artist and their respective galleries. Installation views by Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf.
It’s no secret that some moments slip away into the mental archive forever, while others vanish before we fully sense them. Random Institute presents at Despacio conceptual works spanning the past 40 years by artists who understand how to capture and create ingenious moments that inform our memories and provoke our deepest ruminations.
Sometimes it’s the small, silent moments that tell the story.
Our most fulfilling experiences connect us with what we are really searching for. They lead us to ask, what are we seeking when visiting an exhibition?
This question has generated many answers over time and remains significant today in an ever-changing world of influences and expectations. It is also all the more relevant to Central America, a region with limited outlets for exploring art beyond national museums.
It is the visitor’s responsibility to manage his or her expectations. Interpreting art requires time for personal contemplation. Conceptual artists inspire us to pay attention to fleeting moments, and we at Random Institute feel those fleeting moments may give birth to stories, myths, and in some cases even new realities.
All of the works on display in No One Belongs Here More Than You playfully interpret moments in time. Sometimes they focus on the absence of something during a significant moment, and other times they suggest that the moment is indicative of something greater. Regardless of their differences, each artist activates the viewer’s imagination through his or her work by breathing new life into a handful of moments that will continue to inform what happens next.
Ultimately, we interpret and revisit artworks in the context of time, reminding us that great works of art are living things and exceptionally timeless.
Two North African artists were invited to Switzerland to speak about their work: one who meets the necessary visa requirements to enter the country and one who doesn’t. These two scenarios, to be presented at the Belluard Festival, are the starting points for a story that isn’t afraid to touch upon our collective prejudices and the controversial question looming behind its creation:
Will the visiting artist overstay his visa after his talk to start a new life in Switzerland?
Presenting both of the following scenarios will allow Belluard Festival visitors to experience two different possible outcomes that reflect upon the realities of border crossing.
SCENARIO 1 An artist was invited to Switzerland, but he did not fulfill the visa requirements.
SCENARIO 2 An artist was invited to Switzerland, and his visa application was accepted.
For Scenario 2, an artist talk will be held on Sunday, June 28th at 8pm titled:ART PRACTICE BEYOND THE FENCEor why the artist may overstay his visa to start a new life after this talk.
In addition to the artist talk, both of these scenarios will be incorporated into separate but identical exhibition spaces at the Belluard Festival, where each artist’s body of work is exposed in documentary form, and the spectator is confronted with the curatorial underpinning for each given situation.
Upon entering the festival, spectators are assigned a number, the significance of which will be revealed once inside the two exhibition spaces. Each space will unveil a number leading to a different outcome based on the status of the artists’ visa applications.
In the rejected artist’s space, the selected number will send a visitor to North Africa to the artist talk of Mohamed Arejdal, held in his home.
In the accepted artist’s space, the holder of the selected number will be asked to host the above mentioned artist talk with Mohammed Laouli in their own home, taking into account both the political sensitivity of the project’s underlying questions and the artist’s own motivations.
Borders are plural, so any project dealing with the questions they raise must be too.
The artist talk with Mohammed Laouli will take place on Sunday, June 28th at 8pm in a private apartment in Fribourg.
CREDITS Documentary pictures by Juliette Chrétien. Additional installation views by Youssef Ouchra, Javier Melian, Francisco Alejandro, Chourouk Hriech, Aziz Nadif, Mohssin Harraki, and Ly Mamadou.
THANKS For sharing your insights on the Moroccan contemporary art world: Siham Halli, Dr. Mehdi Zouak, Bérénice Saliou, Younes Rahmoun, Mohammed Laouli, Mohamed Arejdal, Maud Houss, Touda Bouanani, Randa Maroufi, Hassan Quazzani, Mohamed Fariji, Léa Morin, and Marie Moignard.
SUPPORT This project is a Random Institute production for the Belluard Bollwerk International, supported by Migros Kulturprozent and Kanton Fribourg. The on-site display is supported by Ernst & Olga Gubler-Hablützel.
Artists present artworks in strangers' homes in Zurich. In each household, an installation area will be designated, while existing items (furniture, books, and personal objects) will be reinstalled in the art space.
With the artworks thus displaced, visitors must directly contact the private hosts, whose phone numbers are available alongside their displayed belongings at Réunion.
The art world disrupts the private sphere and vice versa
Visiting another’s home leaves a lasting impression. From the authors on the bookshelves to the contents of the refrigerator, a personal dwelling offers almost imperceptible information about one’s life. Much the same, the artistic qualities of memories made in such a home correlate to the environment in which they occurred. This is a pivotal facet of Don’t Talk to Strangers, which atomizes preconceived notions of the gallery proper by casting a peculiar hue on the entrancing properties of that which we cannot live without: art.
Overlap of Public and Private Space
In this reappropriation of an exhibition, artists present installations in the households of participating Zurich residents, rather than in the Réunion art space. Curators work closely with each dwelling’s artist to designate an installation area from which all existing items are relocated and installed at the gallery space.
Once the exchange is complete, viewers are invited to contact private hosts, whose phone numbers are available alongside their displayed belongings, to ascertain operation hours of their newly appropriated “home gallery.”
A Far More Personal Experience
By design, Don’t Talk to Strangers challenges viewers’ expectations and impishly suggests an alternative experience that is far more intimate than typical art viewings in gallery settings. While visitors of Réunion are initially denied access to the work they desire, they find reciprocity in elite-access at the cost of their time.
This inventive model encourages a deeper level of participation by diverting the impulse to passively consume. If the viewer takes full advantage, each visit to the art space offers another phone number, another unique experience, and another opportunity for adventure.
The heightened sense of participation, contacting hosts and making appointments, results in a heightened sense of investment. In this way, Don’t Talk to Strangers’ reaches beyond an exhibition. Viewers searching for a contemporary art fix will be challenged to pursue a pilgrimage in the name of art, allowing exploration to play a role in their eventual experience of the work.
Consequently, the initial disappointment from lack of artwork becomes a chance to discover far more than the artwork itself.
Polyphonic Roles of Host and Viewers
Meanwhile, the host wears many hats—fellow man, homeowner, art expert, guide, and institution. By welcoming viewers into their home, they also welcome the possibility of new perspectives and interpretations of the artwork at hand.
Though the newly-formed relationship between host and viewer may end post-viewing, while together, both parties are of one ambition: to let art happen outside of the institutionalized art world, as well as to rediscover their autonomy as art viewers and enthusiasts.
Such a circumstance, however, also forces the host into a position of influence, just as any art institution influences its patrons. As a result, the host’s life story is on display like the art in their home. This creates a more personal system for viewing contemporary works: an intimate environment that will no doubt lend itself to a fond and vivid memory in the archive of the viewer’s life.
Random Institute entreats its audience to bask in the unknown and to reap the reward of memories, knowledge, and experience. The home of a stranger offers the perfect setting, the grand stage from which a narrative will naturally emerge amongst the trio of host, viewer, and artwork. This narrative becomes both a tale closely linked to the home and, quite possibly, an inseparable part of the artwork displayed in Don’t Talk to Strangers.
ARTISTS Alejandro Cesarco / Alois Godinat / Cory Arcangel / Federico Herrero / Karin Lehmann / Peles Empire / Richard Long / San Keller / Selina Grüter & Michèle Graf / Slavs and Tatars
The exhibition took place from February 6th–17th at Réunion in Zurich. Art works could be visited at the apartments of the hosts, independently of Réunion’s hours of operation. → Facebook Event
The first edition of the show took place in New York.
The project is kindly supported by Stadt Zürich and Ernst + Olga Gubler-Hablützel Stiftung. We would like to thank all hosts, as well as Ringer Collection (Zurich) and Galerie Tschudi (Zuoz) for their collaboration.
Juliette Chrétien (Project Plan) & Matthew Cianfrani (Installation Views)