The Instagram account Veteranas and Rucas is a flashback to the 90s Latinx communities of Southern California. The pics, digital or digitalized, worn out by time, show in a casual way the social and intimate life of women whose adolescence passed by in the troubled SoCal of that decade. The more than 4,000 photographs make up the surprising archive built by Chicano artist Guadalupe Rosales (1980) through her own research, open calls and spontaneous collaborations.
Something that began in 2015 as a way to connect with her family and culture has led to a growing and ambitious archive project of the SoCal Latino community of the 90’s (and 80’s, and even back), to which the Vincent Price Art Museum dedicates an exhibition under the title of Echoes of a Collective Memory.
Contributors of Veteranas and Rucas are culturally identified with these images full of nostalgia, representative of happy times and parties but also of that chaotic context that marked the 90s in SoCal. “Teenagers, including myself, were creating unique spaces in the midst of gang violence, the 1992 L.A. Riots, and other racial injustices such as proposition 187,” said Rosales. “I began to understand my work as a personal and collective memory of that time. It is about unlearning/relearning/reexamining our history as youth in Southern California. It is also about honoring those who we’ve lost in time.”
In the exhibition, the artist dedicates an altar to her cousin Ever Sánchez, who was stabbed to death in a party in 1996. She also displays cabinets with documents -brochures, party invitations, magazines- as well as shelves with ephemeral objects from the period -all this under a blue neon light that bathes all the space. Projections and bulletin board-like murals show young women with bold hairstyles, baggy pants and profusely delineated eyes. These images define a style or fashion of the time, but also make up a sort of timeless visual manifesto of Latina women, who have been historically underrepresented -or poorly represented-, notably in the media.
The collective stories that are part of the Latino youth culture of Los Angeles in the 90s reflect the daily experiences of their multiracial communities, whether in private spaces -such as a teenager’s bedroom- or the public sphere -cruises, parties-, as well as other forms of socialization.
Inside the Museum, Rosales activates a space for memory. Presented as a large immersive installation, the exhibition points to personal experiences as amplifiers of collective experience, and places memory as a collaborative and shared conversation.
Working in an interdisciplinary way across her own artistic practice and the communication strategies of digital media, Guadalupe Rosales modifies the power relations that are part of the historical process by creating an online archive of community origin that makes use of social media platforms. The scope and favorable response to his project Veteranas and Rucas has been such that it has overflowed into Map Pointz, an Instagram account dedicated to the parties and raves of the 90s at SoCal.
In a reciprocal relationship with the public, Rosales shares the messages of the people who collaborate with her two Instagram accounts and, as a good archivist and community manager, she provides detailed information about the posted images. By presenting personal and family narratives alongside the images, her work engages in storytelling, as she implements a process of writing a different public history about Latinx youth culture across the region.
“Her practice is extremely innovative, extending beyond the studio to intersect with processes of community building through collectively sourced archives, and bridging aspects of digital humanities and social media with contemporary art. She is committed to sharing the stories and experiences of young people, and that resonates deeply with our audiences.”, says Pilar Tompkins Rivas, the Museum Director.
Through her two collaborative archiving projects, Rosales portrays a collective that seeks its place of belonging, inviting it to tell its own story before others do so inaccurately.
GUADALUPE ROSALES: ECHOES OF A COLLECTIVE MEMORY
Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles College 1301, Avenue Cesar Chavez, Monterrey Park, California
Through March 23rd, 2019
Featured image: Guadalupe Rosales, Selections of Glamour shots and Party flyers, Collage, Dimensions vary, ca. 1990s. Courtesy of the artist.