Everything Begins Somewhere Else

What are some of the things that come to mind when you think “Mexico”? 

If it’s Tacos and Tequila, then you and I are both uncultured swine (kidding) (not kidding). 

Last month, September to be exact, I crossed a destination off of my Wishlist as I travelled to the Frida Haven that is Mexico City.

Apart from my knowledge of Frida and Diego, I knew absolutely nothing about Mexican art or the ‘art scene.’ As I look back on my trip, I am happy to say that they both exceeded my expectations, especially as a non-spanish speaking tourist (yeah I know, I’m working on it). 

Though I could write a 10,000 word essay on all the ways Mexico City impressed me, this post in particular highlights the gemmiest of contemporary-art-gems that I stumbled upon in my gallery hopping.


Behold, the fascinating, Martín Soto Climent. 

Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Climent’s work explores both physical and theoretical dimensions. Though I’ve only seen the Everything Begins Somewhere Else exhibition in person, I think he has become a favourite of mine, and is one to look out for!

Everything Begins Somewhere Else takes a strong command of your attention the moment you enter the room. I was enthralled by these monotoned, immersive structures.

Now and again I glaze over Climent’s pieces and find that each time conjures new meaning for me. In my opinion, they are connotative of human anatomy; the universe and astronomy; nature; sexuality; symmetry… I can go on. But what stands out most of all, is his choice of material: your average pantyhose and linen canvas.

Now, I can see how abstract art can often pose many questions to the viewer (the most common being “why?”). Admittedly, I don’t often have an immediate opinion either. This body of work, however, expresses different thematic worlds within the exhibition space, as each piece alludes to existing objects that do not (physically) appear before us. Even its two-dimensionality is challenged by its conceptual and physical components, allowing it to embody a more sculptural composition.

In his write up, Climent states, “the objects that I manipulate to compose my work reveal themselves as gently altered objects. And I have to accept that they are. But rather than simply seeking an alternation, what I really try to generate with my subtle modifications, is an alterity that duplicates the reality of the object. An alterity that allows us to feel that the object is here and somewhere else, that it comes from another reality where senses originate, complementing our own.” 

Reading this really made me think about the way people receive art (and maybe even design). I wonder if going to art galleries or museums help to condition the mind to analyse and deliberate the messages channeled through the artwork. Even if we do not receive the same message, is it not the tapping into our consciousness that makes us more expansive? On the flip-side, with an already heavy shadow cast upon the creative industry- how do we influence the general public to appreciate craftsmanship or acknowledge that ART IS WORK, when there is an eminent barrier?

Which brings me to my favourite part of Climent’s reflection: “the only tangible thing in art is the emotional experience it provokes, which is neither measurable nor objective. Art is as subjective as life whose only purpose is to consume itself in order to recreate itself. And this is exactly where mankind is currently caught at: we consume for the mere sake of consumption, we produce for the sake of production and we have entirely forgotten about our purpose of regeneration.”

* The images in this post were taken by yours truly at the Proyecto Monclova Gallery in Mexico City (2018). To view more images from this exhibition, please click here. To see more of Martín Soto Climent’s work, click here. *

ZH

Caribbean Confabulations

Confabulations: one of my favourite words in the English language. This is mostly due to the perfect combination of strong yet soft syllables within the word, but also because of the meaning of the word itself; to talk informally; (or in the psychological world) to fill in the gaps of memory by means of fabrication.

The Artist Talk given by Che Lovelace at The Loftt Gallery made me think a lot about this word. For those who don't know where The Loftt Gallery is, it's above the well-known bar & bistro "Drink!". It's a haven amidst the roars of its urban environment, and in a way, the perfect host for the evening's event.

Upon entry, the lights were dimly thrust across the very attentive silhouettes, whom were seated across the wooden floors of the gallery. I had almost forgotten that I came to see an exhibition.

During the discussion, Che mentioned, "I tend to see and get excited about the things that are problematic and difficult." This, to me, is a succinct description of the relationship between the exhibition space and the work. The Loftt Gallery was fairly straightforward in that the structure of the place was functional. That being said, there was a great dichotomy of the building to its atmosphere. It was a muster of celebration, conversations, footsteps, car engines and fully dressed white walls. There was no denying the symphony that is time and place. More importantly, there was no denying Caribbean art- to which I often deem problematic and difficult, in the best possible way.

 

Based on my experiences, Caribbean people are naturally gifted storytellers. This may stem from our ancestral inheritance, or may simply be due to our geographical influence. We may never know which, but I believe that it is this trait that brews performance.

We are an emotional and reactive folk. Our lifestyle fuels our creative endurance and output. It's no wonder that so many music genres and sub-genres exist right here. That's what makes Caribbean art so complex. We're a fairly young yet growing society that is trying to understand why we are the way we are.

This recent collection by Lovelace channeled the openness of the figure and its in-absence to their Caribbean environment. Some (figures) are more direct and take charge of the canvas, whereas others are more of a distant memory that we, as the viewer, do not belong to. The pronounced sections of each piece paired with faded colours and incomplete shapes led me to believe that the figures and their background were so closely tied that they almost could not coexist. To which I ask, is "Caribbean lifestyle" highly evocative of the moments we have never lived but all know so well?

...

Just so that I don't end on too much of a dramatic note: this last quotation of the Artist Talk goes out to all those on the 'come-up' (I feel you sis):

One of the things we as artists (or whatever your profession) have to try to do is find a natural state of living - an instinct that will always guide you. Sometimes we analyse so much that it stops us from fulfilling our goals.

 

 

ZH

One Thousand We's

I'm not much of a planner.

Okay, scratch that.. My social life can never consist of "planning" simply because I don't stick to plans. Sometimes I forget. Most times, I have the simple desire to watch Jane The Virgin in my pyjamas.

Anyway, the moral of this extreme ramble is: for the first time in a very long time, I had planned (strategically) a night out, to see Sarah Knight's exhibition at Medulla Gallery (and even that didn't work, as I had to constantly cancel and reschedule with myself).

Eventually (thankfully), I made it to the last of the last viewing. Medulla Gallery had hosted an artist talk which vehemently filled the room with a pinch of my favoured topics: sex, gender, music, religion, process (why yes, I'm an 'impractical' woman). 

But the true gem of the night lay in the body of work which was nothing short of an ode to the viewer.

The strength of a portrait, to me, lies in its relativity. It becomes less about the subject and more about the viewer. Sarah, this you have achieved. The composition of each piece evoked messages that had foregone personal exploration. Not to mention, I was impressed by the curation of the show as the space adhered to colour palette and meaning of each sub-series: tracing varying points of "pink" whilst contrasting the loudness of the orange to the muted tone of mint green. To me, the traces of pink were heavily symbolic to the stereotypes that women fall under. A patronisation to the stereotype that pink is often regarded as "feminine", or rather a subtle way of celebrating womanhood in and of itself. There were thousands of references to us all; to the Caribbean native, to the Caribbean woman.

Vocal, self-less, independent, diligent, valiant; the woman-ness of a woman, and that's without the prominent factor of being (of the) Caribbean. It's been approximately 11 months since I've started working full-time, and close to a year that I have moved back to Trinidad, and I can't help but be shocked to the many things that have not started, worked, happened.

Before you decide to close this webpage and think that I'm about to bash my homeland, that's not the case. Gender inequality, racism, classism, every '-ism' is everywhere, even in the "oh-so-powerful" countries that we are so quick to glorify. I've come to notice that mentioning these issues seem to be uninteresting to most of my peers. Why do we fall through the cracks of critical discussion? Or feel ashamed to have an opinion on something that is subjective, but often times relevant?

Nevertheless, this post is a kudos to you, Sarah. You have shown me that the art scope has grown within a significant period of time.

I hope we can all support each other in this. 

 

ZH