Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 12-6pm, Thursday 1-7pm Monday and Sunday Closed
Curated by Fernando Salicrup and Christine Licata
Taller Boricua is proud to present two solo exhibitions by artists Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz and Alejandro Guzman.
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz: HUSH
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz’s project-space and solo exhibition “Hush” is a mixed-media combination of performance, photography, drawing and sound installation. These recent pieces are a departure from her well-known bodies of works, “Chuleta” and “Wepa Woman,” that deal with broader issues of the art world, identity and social class structure from a third person perspective. Though each of these personas are autobiographical facets of the artist, they are driven by a larger sense of identity and concept of “self.”
“Hush,” on the other hand, is a self-portrait that delves unabashedly into Raimundi-Ortiz’s direct personal experiences and processes as an artist. A journey that transforms the galleries into a malleable space that goes beyond the concept of art and life as fluid, interchangeable constructs. Raimundi-Ortiz explores deeper into human connections and intimacy, inviting the viewer candidly into her life and offering the opportunity to share theirs.
Within the first gallery is a site-specific drawing that encompasses the entire space. Created through an automatic process and dream-like state, the India ink brush strokes mimic and capture her psyche into expressions of bold, calligraphic lines. Exempt from any representation or literal language, her unconscious and conscious thoughts and emotions are free to work themselves out, slowly fading as they reach the end of the last wall. This exchange of verbal and visual language culminates in her sound installation placed within the gallery walls. A looped recording of her autobiographic poems “Space,” “I Remember Her” and “100 Blocks” flow through the passageway, reconverting her abstract inner dialogue into concrete language based-visual imagery and prose that bear witness to her opinions, personal insights and beliefs.
In the second gallery, Raimundi-Ortiz challenges the viewer to leave behind the role of a passive “spectator-listener” or instructed “participant.” Lying in a bed covered with white linens and comforter, she invites visitors to join her and converse, discuss or just be. In “Hush” a bed becomes a fundamental symbol of familiarity and protectiveness; a physical place and time that provide immediate connection, beyond social networking, SMS and IM immediate communication and updates, but rather real-time, face-to-face, no-character-limitation nor screen-based dialogue and interaction.
Surrounding Raimundi-Ortiz is a series of color, digital photographs of close friends alone in her own bed at home. The photos capture rare moments, void of pretense and affectation, in which lying in another’s bed embodies universal social rituals of intimacy and rites of belonging. Her images are unmediated glimpses into the individuals portrayed that defy voyeurism and intrusion. Although not in the photo, Raimundi-Ortiz’s presence is there, exposing a palpable realm of invisible familiarity, connection and honesty.
For both artist and spectator, “Hush” creates an a dynamic lull where the relentlessly mediated “I” in society, art and culture (markets, media, technology, consumerism) becomes, for a moment, an unfiltered “we.”
Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz is an award-winning, interdisciplinary artist whose trans genre work spans video, performance art, installation, drawing, mural making and spoken word. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally including at El Museo (New York), the Bronx Art Museum and most recently in MANIFESTA 8 in Spain and Trampolim in Brazil among others. Her work appears extensively in books and catalogues and she is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including El Diario/La Prensa’s 2008 “Mujeres Destacada Honoree.” Raimundi-Ortiz is a Skowhegan School and Ralph Bunche Fellow and is a full time Professor of Art at the University of Central Florida. www.wandaraimundi-ortiz.com
Alejandro Guzman: [ ... ] LIES THE TRUTH
Alejandro Guzman’s project-space and solo exhibition “[ ... ] Lies the Truth“ incorporates two distinct yet integrated recent bodies of work: abstract geometric drawings and a mixed media, sculptural performance titled, “El Vejigante.” He critically confronts limitations in the fundamental systems of beliefs by which we interact with and conceive culture.
“[ ... ] Lies the Truth“ examines the historical and contemporary omissions and misrepresentations of the contributions within Western social structures and ideological constructs such as identity, politics and religion.
Guzman defines these distorted views of assimilations and transculturation as “Cultural Vampirism,” referring to the fact that the US, Latin America and Caribbean cultures are deeply rooted in a blend of Pre-Columbian/Indigenous civilizations, African, Asian and European influences. In present-day society, the determining force of how these legacies are appreciated, interpreted and integrated are still dominantly European. Without acknowledgment or understanding, these lapses in historical narratives continue to negatively define Western civilization, reinforcing inequality, class structures and repression.
The first gallery contains Guzman’s detailed concept renderings as well as large-scale, black and white geometrical drawings that act as a portal, a macrocosm of non-figurative realities that transcend the boundaries between concrete perception and representation. Inspired by both ancient Pre-Columbian art and philosophy and modern Formalism, the intricate lines and shapes act as a conduit, governed by the underlying structure inherent in all matter, to create a cosmological, universal view of existence unfettered by man-made boundaries.
These drawings lead to a microcosm of contemporary society in the form of his performance, “El Vejigante.” Guzman dons a modified, traditionally-horned Vejigante mask and a sculpture-suit built from found, familiar objects such as plastic bags and pigeon wire interwoven with traditional cultural, religious and political icons and symbols.
The Vejigante, a historical character within festivals in Puerto Rico, was born out of Spanish Christianity, West African Yoruba rites and Taíno aesthetics. Embracing the duality of assimilation and resistance while existing in the ambiguous space between reality and fiction, “El Vejigante” is a modern-day jester and shaman—a fearless critic and guide with the ability to live both inside and outside of society.
Against a backdrop of geometric textures and chained to a multi-denominational inspired shrine filled with pennies, Guzman’s “El Vejigante” challenges the “social and cultural currency” invested in constructing civic, economic and political priorities and narratives. Although limited in his movement, Guzman silently, and at times playfully, interacts with viewers while holding a taxidermy Guaraguao (the Taíno name for the Red-Tailed Hawk, a bird native to both Puerto Rico and New York).
“[ ... ] Lies the Truth” is a physical embodiment of metaphysical existence, exploring the concrete manifestations of human nature, behavior, migration, consumption and materialism. Through abstract and representational mediums, Guzman expands reality to encompass parallel universes, offering insight into shared histories while provoking a larger dialogue of potential progress, growth and change.
Alejandro Guzman is a multidisciplinary artist who currently works and lives in New York. He holds a MFA in Fine Arts and a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts. Guzman has exhibited extensively throughout New York including the Clayton Gallery and Outlaw Museum, 55 Delancey Street, HammerSpace.info, Queens Museum of Art, Art for Change and the Williamsburg Art and Historical Museum as well as nationally, including Galleria Sin Titulo, (San Juan), Artformz Alternative (Miami) and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. His work has been published in OneFokus.org / insight Magazine and in The Book on Palo Mayombe by Raul Canizares. In 2004, Guzman received an Award Honorarium from the Toledo Museum of Art.
Taller Boricua / Puerto Rican Workshop is a 40-year old artist-run nonprofit art gallery and multidisciplinary cultural space in El Barrio. Our mission is to be a proactive institution for the community in East Harlem by offering programs that stimulate its social, cultural and economic development through the promotion of the arts.
Taller Boricua Galleries 1680 Lexington Avenue, NYC, N.Y. 10029 t: 212.831.4333 f: 212.831.6274 e: [email protected] www.tallerboricua.org Directions: 6 Train to 103 Street / Free admission / Center is accessible for individuals with disabilities.