Friday, January 29, 2010


September 3rd to October 31st 2009

The Bronx River Art Centre in New York and Museo de Arte in El Salvador, presented the following exhibit, in their MARTE Contemporáneo program:


Curator Jose Ruiz

(Peru | New York USA)

Artists: Karlos Carcamo

(El Salvador | New York, USA)

Esperanza Mayobre

(Venezuela | New York, USA)

Diego Medina

(Mexico | New York, USA)

Performance: Ghettoblaster – Irvin

Morazan ( El Salvador | New York, USA)

The exhibit Zonas de Trueque is a reflection of the Bartered States; sample presented in New York during May 2009, and in which pieces created in situ by Salvadorian artists, like Ronald Morán, Simón Vega, Walterio Iraheta and Danny Zavaleta, were displayed. These artists managed to link the art with the life framed within a socio-politic practice. Moreover, this exhibition, at MARTE, is the continuation of a cultural exchange between a group of Salvadorian artists and Latin American artists, living in New York, who have created their own dialogue and collaboration systems, all together, throughout 2009.

The opportunity to conduct the guardianship of two exhibitions, one in El Salvador and one in the United States, led to the possibility of carrying-out a series of investigations: the explorations of the paradigms of interdependence between the two countries, and the discovery of the elements, in-force, elaborated throughout the process of transformation, assimilation and resistance; the use of these postmodern elements as “needles” to explore the epidermis of migration and identity that homogenizes Latin-Americans living in the U.S.; and finally, the change in the idea of “going” (to display) with “coming back” (to display).

This idea of “coming back” (to display) led me to get in touch with three New York artists: Karlos Carcamo (El Salvador), Esperanza Mayobre (Venezuela) y Diego Medina (Mexico), whose countries of birth, evidently, withhold and share irresistible social, political, and cultural histories. In addition, these artists’ works embody offerings that connect with the Latin American cultural language that they developed and left behind.

Whenever a traveler returns to his/her country, he/she returns with numerous adventurous stories and anecdotes, recently acquired customs, and strange gifts from very exotic places. This leads us to believe that these experiences and memories were gathered through courtesy gestures or symbolic exchanges, but what really constitutes the brought-back-home element is something often interchangeable through a different set of rules, bets and commitments.

By means of co-existence, dependence and reciprocity investigations, Zonas de Trueque deconstructs the term exchange (swap) to dissipate the notion or idea that each exchange, even when agreed-upon by both parties, preserves the mutual interests and expectations. When stripped from its material function (tangible goods and services exchange), the very act of exchanging or swapping can also expose the global power unbalance, through which one party is at the mercy of the other, or is forced to act, to get stuck or to defend itself as to be able to progress.

Furthermore, the various mixed techniques used in Karlos Carcamo’s works, which include sculptures, painting, as well as photography, have turned towards minimalism and conceptual strategies; in the very same way that violence has focused on the urban plot. The facilities of Esperanza Mayobre decode the apparent objective transparency for obtaining different types of visas, which are needed to go into the U.S. This provides evidence for the anxiety and ambiguity that is generated in the person who requests a legal entry and residency in this country. The clear impossibilities found in the videos and works related to Diego Medina, indirectly influenced by Eduardo Galeano’s book, Las venas abiertas de América Latina: Cinco siglos de saqueo de un continente, mark the transformations when placed on the side of volume, and when the volume appears to be a double-strategy for political ideologies that can only exist as concepts.

Additionally, Irvin Morazan, a Salvadorian artist established in New York, presented, on the opening day at MARTE, a performance in the form of a ritual, through which he personified pre-Columbian deities that assumed the roles of “break-dance” dancers, and who fight in favor of hip-hop music, which was loudly played from sound devices that simulated headgear.

These weak operations systems are discovered through the creation of interdisciplinary works that assign the responsibility to each side of the equation. The collective sentiment of these facilities, performances, videos and objects allow us to get acquainted with the cultural language shift and with the process in which one should always be geared forward as to be knowledgeable, inquisitive and resourceful in this life experience’s reality. A reality that is not based on the separating differences or in the similar things that generate indifference, but in a fragile, yet densely integrated shared historical network that still needs to be deciphered, rooted out or mediated. If the role of the artist is to act like society’s critical voice, through questioning and the exposure of life’s unbalances, then this group of artists, along with the Salvadorian counterpart, have acted quite rightly in their pathway to create the necessary atmosphere as to inspire the rest of society, with the objective of contributing to a social change.

José Ruiz

José Ruiz is an artist and curator established in New York, who has moved between Lima, Brasilia, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. He has a Masters in Fine Arts in New Genres from the Art Institute in San Francisco, acquired in 2004. He began his curatorial practice in 2000, as part of an interdisciplinary and collaborative art project. Since then, Ruiz has been curator at around, 15 national and international exhibits, and has been co-curator of approximately 30 visual and performance art projects from various institutions and organizations, such as the Bronx River Art Center, the Queens Art Museum, PS122 Gallery, Decatur Blue, P.P.O.W. Gallery and Transformer Gallery.

The MARTE Contemporáneo program is sponsored by Mario Cader-Frech and the MARTE Contemporáneo Committee.

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