Gema Alava, Tell Me The Truth: Tension No. 4, 2008, Digital black and white photograph on fiberprint paper . Courtesy of the Artist.
John Jay College Gallery
899 Tenth Avenue, 3rd Floor, 212-237-8325
Upper West Side
November 9 - November 22, 2010
Reception: Tuesday, November 9, 6 - 8 PM
John Jay College of Criminal Justice proudly presents, Tell The Truth, an exhibition of photographic works by artist Gema Alava, curated by Claudia Calirman.
In 2007 artist Gema Alava visited her native town of Madrid and sketched Duelo a garrotazos (1820-1823), the painting by Francisco Goya on permanent display at the Prado Museum. “Men fighting with sticks” depicts two men anchored to the floor with sticks in their hands, their legs buried in dirt up to their knees, awaiting a cruel death.
In 2008, Alava created Tell Me the Truth, a series of nine black and white photographs depicting the struggle between a nail and a thread, both anchored to the ground, culminating in an exhausting performance. This body of work, exhibited in New York City and London in 2008, explored the potential of what Alava calls “contradictory truths.” Viewers were exposed to images that depicted fragments of a narrative that allowed multiple readings. “Viewers identified themselves with the thread or the nail in peculiar ways, always convinced of their own versions.” (Alava, 2008). Tell Me the Truth is a continuation of Alava’s investigation of the relationship between strength and vulnerability, and the diversity that exists between what is seen and what is understood, while confronting the public with the question: Are we faced with the record of an installation or with the work in its entirety?
Art critic Jonathan Goodman writes: “In the long run, we can appreciate Alava as an inspired and subversive artist. There is no overt political imagery in her art, yet the conclusions we draw from it include social concerns and fundamental perceptions of our dual and contradictory natures.” (FronteraD/ September 2010)
Gema Alava is a New York based artist born in Madrid, Spain, whose artwork has been exhibited, supported and/or founded by the Ministry of Education and Science of Spain; the Rana Museum in Norway; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; the Queens Museum of Art, NY; CUE Art Foundation, NY; EXIT ART, NY; New York University, NY; United Nations, NY; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; the San Francisco Art Institute, CA; the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, FL; The London Institute, UK; the General Consulate of Spain in New York; Fundación Maphre, Spain; Fundación La Caixa, Spain; and MANIFESTA, the European Biennial, among many others. She holds a BFA from the Universidad Complutense, Spain, and the Chelsea College of Art and Design, The London Institute, UK; a MFA in painting from the Academy of Art University, CA; and a MFA in New Genre from the San Francisco Art Institute, CA. Alava has been invited to lecture internationally at many institutions. She is also currently a lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.