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Casa Tomada.latin American Artists at The Biennial Sitelines 2018

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SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas is a biennial program organized by SITE Santa Fe (New Mexico, United States) for the years 2014, 2016 and 2018. In its third and last iteration, which opens on August 3 of this year, presents works by 23 artists -including ten new commissions-, under the curatorship of José Luis Blondet, Candice Hopkins and Ruba Katrib, with Naomi Beckwith as Curatorial Advisor.

The title of SITElines 2018 refers to the fantastic story Casa Tomada (1946) by the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, which is based on the story of two brothers who dedicate their lives to the jealous care of an old colonial house. As a mysterious and unnamed presence begins to occupy parts of the house, they are eventually forced out onto the street without any material possessions. The exhibition plays off the ambiguities of this story, addressing the reciprocal and complex relationship between the ones who stay and the ones who leave, and those that belong and those that are outliers.

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Paz Errázuriz (Santiago, 1944), one of the participating artists in this edition of the Biennial, will present Los Nómadas del Mar (1996), a photographic history of the last Kawésqar ethnic group from the Chilean Western Patagonia, as well as a new photographic series produced by the artist in collaboration with Sergio Parra, Chilean poet and owner of the mythical library Metales Pesados.

Another outstanding work is the one that will be presented by Ángela Bonadies (Caracas, 1970) and Juan José Olavarría (Valencia, Venezuela, 1969), entitled La Torre de David (David’s Tower). Since 2010, both artists have been developing works in various media around this ongoing project, which focuses on the illegal occupation (between 2007 and 2014) of the unfinished tower of the Financial Center Confinanzas, in Caracas, which with 40 floors would have been one of the tallest in the Venezuelan capital.

The tower began to be built in 1990, remaining unfinished in 1994, when there was a strong banking crisis that led to its owners to bankruptcy. Due to the abandonment, the building -known as David’s Tower in allusion to its promoter, the Venezuelan banker David Brillembourg– was invaded in 2007 by a group of homeless families. «Government authorities have maintained a doubly ambiguous position towards the future administration of the Tower4, as well as regards to the inhabitants who live in it illegally, because they have neither taken any steps to evict the squatters, nor to guarantee them with a more comfortable dwelling», says curator Félix Suazo in the article Appearances Are Not Deceptive.

At present, the «ocupas» are around 2,500 and are protected under the figure of the housing cooperative Casiques de Venezuela (sic). «Somehow, La Torre de David is an icon that represents the last 30 years of Venezuela: from the modernizing promise from capital to the revolutionary promise from the State. Also, extending the concept, the tower is the image of our modern project, which explodes in the contrast of pre and post-modern situations. It is a story that violates the limits between fiction and reality and between such basic meanings as protection-helplessness, security-insecurity, curtain wall, window-emptiness», say the artists.

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SITElines 2018 will also present new commissioned works by Latin American artists Fernanda Laguna (Buenos Aires, 1972), Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (Guatemala, 1978), Eduardo Navarro (Buenos Aires, 1979) and Tania Pérez Córdova (Mexico, 1979).

The project of Ramírez-Figueroa has as its starting point an early passage of the Popol Vuh, the Mayan book of creation, in which domestic objects rebel against the ingratitude of humans. Laguna, using paper and cardboard, will recreate the walls of a house where several of his recent paintings hang. Navarro will install a new site-specific interactive sculpture in Railyard Park, adjacent to SITE Santa Fe, while Pérez Córdova will show a set of sculptures related to exchange processes that point to absences and presences of people and places. The Mexican artist is also creating a new series of paintings that address this theme once again in her work.

The renowned American artist Andrea Fraser (1965) will focus her participation in her new book, 2016 in Museums, Money and Politics, which documents the reported political contributions made by trustees of more than 125 US art museums in the 2016 election cycle and its aftermath. Fraser extracts data from her book to design an installation to greet visitors in the lobby of SITE Santa Fe.

Another American artist, Stephanie Taylor (1971), partially takes over SITE’s institutional voice. She is recording a number of songs/press releases for Casa tomada, which are posted to the exhibition’s website, and also distributed via emails and postcards. In the most recent one, Press Release #2, Taylor bombastically announces the participant artists in the biennial. At the closing ceremony, his «songs» will be performed in a live concert.


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SITElines 2018 will also be receiving NuMu (New Museum of Contemporary Art), an egg-shaped museum conceived in 2012 by Guatemalan artists Jessica Kairé and Stefan Benchoam, and which has traveled -in its transportable version, a 1: 1 replica- the Guatemala City-Los Angeles rout, passing through Mexico City, as part of the PST initiative: LA / LA.

Formerly an egg sales kiosk in the Guatemalan capital, NuMu will travel from LACMA in Los Angeles -where Blondet is co-curator of Special Projects- to Santa Fe, where it will be installed in SITE’s front lobby. Throughout the run of Casa Tomada, NuMu will house two exhibitions starting with a new version of Radamés «Juni» Figueroa‘s El Nido Salvaje [The Wild Nest], a project developed by the Puerto Rican artist for NuMu in 2013.

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SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico, US

From August 3rd, 2018 through January 6th, 2019

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Featured image: Ángela Bonadies and Juan José Olavarría, La Torre de David (David’s Tower), 2010. Courtesy of the artists


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