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Laura Aguilar & Delilah Montoya, Natural Forces: Against Type

Magnan Emrich Contemporary
505 West 28th Street, 212-244-2344
January 3 - February 9, 2008
Reception: Friday, January 4, 6 - 8 PM
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Magnan Emrich Contemporary is please to present two Latin photographers Laura Aguilar and Delilah Montoya in Natural Forces: Against Type, curated by Kóan Jeff Baysa and in conjunction with Susanne Vielmetter Los Angles Projects and Patricia Correia Gallery. The exhibition will be on view from January 3 – February 9, 2008.

Stereotyping consists of preconceived images, expected behaviors, and assumptions about a certain group, with the caricaturization of specific attributes. These defining (mis)perceptions are amplified and perpetuated in mass media and popular culture, thus altering the expectation of and treatment by others. A typical example in Latino culture is the bandido, and within that culture, the malcriada, a subject explored by Delilah Montoya through her images of female Mexican boxers. The Latina lesbian body is a typecast subject challenged by the self-portraiture and landscape compositions of Laura Aguilar. The contrasting mixture of potent photographs by women representing women from two markedly different viewpoints within their shared culture creates a forceful visual interplay that provokes new dialogues about stereotype.

Laura Aguilar explores the relationship between body and landscape, Aguilar focuses on her own nude body in these images. Her photographs feature carefully chosen landscapes in which her fleshy body blends with the unyielding features of the land. Aguilar’s ongoing search for a subliminal fusion of body and nature finds ground in these new images – her mature development of composition and tonality result in a pictorial gravity against which the body performs acts of strange beauty. More dramatic in nature than her previous nature self-portraits, Aguilar’s gestures are indicating a mysterious vocabulary of meaning that reaches beyond the boundaries of language. Laura Aguilar lives and works in San Gabriel. She is self- taught and has shown at the ArtPace Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, the La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, and the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, the Nexus Center for Contemporary Art, Atlanta, the traveling “Sunshine & Noir” exhibition, the “Bad Girls” exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and the Aperto 93 Biennale in Venice, Italy. She received the 2000 Anonymous Was A Woman Award, the 2000 COLA Award from the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, and the 1998 J. Paul Getty Grant for the Visual Arts. Laura Aguilar’s work will be included in “Art/Women/California: Parallels and Intersections, 1950-2000” at the San Jose Museum of Art and in “Der Akt in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts” at the Kunsthalle Emden in Germany.

Delilah Montoya explores identity, memory, and cultural history through her powerful black and white documentary styled portraits of determination and defiance. The true subject of Montoya’s new series, Women Boxers is the spirit of a malcriada. Montoya explains, “My interpretation of a malcriada is that of an “ill-mannered servant” or “bad girl.” A malcriada is a woman who will not behave and is determined to do what she wants, regardless of what society rules or even good sense dictates. When a family is confronted with this sort of unseemly member, they struggle to change her… Women boxers certainly fit the definition of malcriada. By crossing the ropes and getting into the ring, they enter the bastions of manliness to confront a brutal sport. A social understanding has always been that a woman is not to witness, demonstrate, or indulge in acts of violence. Many in fact, are appalled by the violent sport of boxing and say that it should be banned. But the malcriada, determined to box, turn their backs on these opinions. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act and the feminist movement gave women the right, and they willingly have taken it.”

Delilah Montoya is professor of Photography/Digital Media at the University of Houston, TX. She received her MFA in studio art from The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Montoya’s work can be found in the following museum permanent collections: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA; Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Bronx Museum of Art, New York, NY; and Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM.
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