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Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Afghan Hound


Location One
26 Greene Street, 212-334-3347
October 29 - December 23, 2011
Reception: Saturday, October 29, 6 - 8 PM
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Opening Reception: October 29, 6-8pm Live Performance at 7pm

We invite you to join us: Monthly workshops, presided over by Jovana Stokic, Location One’s curator of Performance Art, invite guest artists, critics and curators to work with the community of artists-in-residence at Location One. They provide a lively interaction and often suggest projects or collaborations that might be explored for presentation at the gallery. This month the topic addressed will be Collecting, Curating and Conserving; the guest curator will be Sandra Skurvida.

A girl raised as a boy. A boy trained to act as a girl. A writer and activist in exile. Anauthoritative male. These are the four characters through whom Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen addresses the complexities of gender in cultures where men and women are segregated — and masculinity rules.

This is Afghan Hound, the performance Cuenca premiered to rave reviews at the 54th Venice Bienniale, and which now makes its New York premiere at Location One on October 29th,, along with an exhibition of photos and sculpture developed expressly for this exhibition.

Through photographs. sculpture, video, song, costume and performance, Cuenca explores the fragile structure of political hegemony and patriarchal domination. Her premise: When sexuality is repressed, new constructions of gender develop. The title refers both to the long-haired dog breed (the artist uses hair in extreme exaggeration throughout the work) and to Afghanistan (the male-dominated culture from which her characters are drawn).

The Afghan Hound performance includes four impersonations of voices from Afghanistan. The four stories that unfold are recounted through music and song. The choreography is contingent upon a costume made out of hair, metaphorically symbolizing different sexualities that are hidden in the particular context of contemporary Afghan culture.

The lyrics of the first song, for example, use quotes by the Afghan activist, writer and politician in exile, Malalai Joya; the second tells the tale of a Bacha Bazi (a young boy trained to act as a girl, who dances at men’s parties but is also a sex slave); the third character revolves around powerful male speech and masculine authority, and the last character, is a former Bacha Posh, a girl raised as a boy, when there are no sons in the family.

Cuenca purposely inhabits the role of an “impersonator.” The artist has stated: “My position as an artist and impersonator is to be a mouthpiece for repressed voices that I find urgent to unveil. The Western discourse on the Arabic World is often reduced to our positioning of them. I have tried to communicate stories seen from their tradition and culture, which in my opinion is important to try to understand, before we interfere or judge.”

Taking her own Danish-Filipino background as a point of departure, Cuenca universalizes cultural narratives in a critical and humorous approach to issues such as identity, religion, gender and social relations. Her productions involve choreographed songs and composed music with stylized costumes. The exhibition at Location One features performance documentation, as well as the new series of photographs developed along with the performance.

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, who last performed at Location One in 2009, was born in 1970 in Manila, Philippines, and now lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. A graduate from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Copenhagen, she primarily engages in video and performance art. Her productions involve scripted texts/songs; composed music as well as intricate visual elements that include set design and costumes. Lilibeth Cuenca has had solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, at the Gävle Konstcentrum in Gavle, Sweden in 2006 and at Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany in 2010. She has participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including: Performa 09, New York City, The Thessaloniki Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2009 and The Tate Modern in London, 2009. In 2007 she was part of the exhibition Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. She was included in the Bussan Biennial, South Korea, 2006, and the Rauma Balticum Biennial, Finland, 2006. A monograph of Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen’s works is published by Revolver Publishing, Berlin, including texts by André Lepecki, Bettina Knaup and Lars Bang Larsen. In 2011, she participated in the exhibition Speech Matters, The Danish Pavilion, at the 54th Venice Biennale.

Jovana Stokić is the curator of performance art at Location One where she supports the growth of performance art by promoting the works of emerging artists on an international scale, organizing and collaborating on events using a network of people converging at Location One. It shows a commitment to experimentation across all art forms and points to recent efforts to return performance art to its central position within the gallery system. Performances, public panels and discussions promote and seek critical discourses on contemporary performance art practice and related issues.
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