LACE Emerging Curators Program: Names Printed in Black
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Los Angeles
through February 11
By Genie Davis
Curated by Emily Butts, “Names Printed in Black” is a powerful exhibition, a selection of the LACE Emerging Curators Program. The show runs through February 11th. “Names Printed in Black” is a valuable show, an exploration of loss, trauma, violence, and violation. It’s potent and prescient in today’s world of media exploitation and the recognition of violence against people of color, women, and the LGBT community. The show specifically addresses memory, and the repression of same, as well as depicting social and political issues on a personal level, and how we react to them, to acts of violence, violation, and cultural history. Memory and forgetfulness: disregard for the past or assimilation of it, these are the building blocks of this exhibition.
While the subject may be somewhat dark, the artwork is exhilarating. Artists include Carmen Argote, Adriana Corral, Carlos Motta, Lisa C. Soto, and Samira Yamin.
Yamin’s (Geometries) Fire V, creates a lacey, snow-flake like pattern that she breaks – as a superimposition over a catastrophic image of violence. The impression is of how we are capable of filtering out, obscuring the true impact of such an image, and yet that capability is incomplete, fragile. Using hand-cut issues of Time magazine as her medium, Yamin’s work is an indictment of violence and the distancing of it by the media. It is also a graceful lesson in how the human mind assimilates traumatic information. At the same time, it is visually beautiful work.
Soto’s sculptural pieces are also profoundly lovely. In The Gravity of Our Locus, Soto creates an incredibly graceful sculpture made of subwoofers, copper wire, bullet shells and caps which spill into copper bowls. It is a stunning fountain of violence that is as lovely as a waterfall and as devastating as the deaths and injury the bullet shells and caps represent. The copper is burnished, shimmers almost like water; the bowls are shaped like artful lily pads, the symmetry is perfect. But above all else, this large-scale sculptural sound installation echoes with loss.
Carlos Motta’s work utilizes political history to create a different narrative for individuals and communities. Revolving around LGBT culture and the politics of sex and gender, his work has a global focus. Both experimental and informational, with Intense Deseos here, Motta’s work addresses context, geography, and political and ideological content.
Adriana Corral’s installations and sculptures are thematically perfect for this exhibition, exploring loss, injustice, concealment, and memory. Her ceramic sculpture, Voces de las Perdidas (Voices of the Lost) is a deeply powerful piece. Suspended from the ceiling are ceramic body bag tags from the crime site of the murders of women in Juarez, Mexico at Campo Algodon. The color of autumn leaves, both visually and thematically this work is a tribute to and a remembrance of the fallen.
“I would constantly read about the slain women in the Diario or the El Paso Times and to me it was just unbelievable. It wasn’t just an issue in Mexico; I saw it as a universal issue,” Corral says.
The sculpture was designed to create awareness of the issue, according to Corral, who worked with a Mexican tile company in creating the clay body bag tags from soil collected at the site of the murders.
Carmen Argote’s two haunting images in the show are a part of a series of works she made for a previous show, Mansion Magnolia. “The act of responding to spaces runs through much of my work. This action of inhabiting as process is at the center of my practice. Mediums may change, but the exploration of personal history and conversing with sites has been a constant way of me making art.”
Argote traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico as a “self-residency,” as she puts it, asking her aunt if she could stay at the site of the family business, an events venue called Mansion Magnolia, a neo-classical style residence that was once a governor’s mansion. Staying at the site for 3 months, Argote found herself absorbed in the architecture.
“The photo of the stacked draped chairs shows the different things that were brought in to the events hall and placed within the architecture by the events crew. I did not arrange any of these elements. Chairs, tables and furniture were constantly moved into and out of the space and were placed in such a way that made them look like minimalist sculptural works among the neoclassical architecture. These photographs point to this contrast and these moments,” she says. “I was interested in the resonance of the neoclassical architecture and its inherent values, and the modernist forms created by the events furniture. I became interested in how, I as an artist from L.A., saw modernist sculptures among arrangements of stacked furnitures within the neoclassical architecture.”
She notes that the works that shows her figure as a blur are more about generational layering.
“In Mansion Magnolia, there were a few portraits painted by one of my great aunts. These portraits looked very similar to my face and I began to feel a sort of layering of the previous inhabitants with my own stay and residence…Through the photographs, I wanted to layer my skin over these surfaces, and I did that through slow exposure. I would lay and walk and move across these surfaces, thinking of the photo as a sort of mark-making/painting.”
The work, Se metio for la azotea, translates as “she came in through the roof”. In this photo, the artist was imagining her painter aunt, descending from her studio. “I was combining the effects of the architecture with the personal narrative.”
Argote adds: “What I hope people take away from my work is a sort of layering and complexity in terms of what makes up a transnational perspective, that understands the cultural nuances of Mexican identity, but is looking at it from the perspective of a person raised in Los Angeles, interested in how identities have been constructed and how class structures work.”