2008 — “The Question is Know: Where is Latin American Art?”
(1) Exhibit explores Latin arts’ meaning by Susan Robles
Golden Gate [X]press
April 27, 2008
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has showcased and maintained the Latino cultural through art for over 30 years. MCCLA provides classes to the community, theater performances and art exhibits.
Their latest exhibit, The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art?, runs from April 18 to May 24.
Curator Anthony Torres explores and expands the definition of Latin/Latino art. Instead of being separately categorized in its own group, he says he wants to show how Latin art can be diverse and put into the broader category of contemporary art.
“The Question is Known does not identify or describe some ‘essential spirit’ or Latin American or Latino art,” Torres said. “But rather re-presents ‘Latin American/Latino art’ as an open area of inquiry that is in a constant process of negation and negotiation.”
The exhibit features political, spiritual and personal artistic works by 30 artists from around the world. For more information, go to http://www.missionculturalcenter.org
(2) Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) presents:
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) presents exhibition
“The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art?”
Curated by Anthony Torres
April 18 – May 24, 2008; Opening reception, Friday, April 18, 7-10pm ($5)
Related Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute, Saturday, April 19, 10am – 3:30pm (Free)
(SAN FRANCISCO CA, 4 April 2008) — Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) is pleased to present the exhibition “The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art?” Curated by Anthony Torres, the exhibition features art works by thirty artists whose works reflect a vast range of aesthetic and conceptual frameworks and material approaches. “The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art?” is on view at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission Street (near 24th), San Francisco, from April 18 through May 24, 2008. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm (daily admission $2). For more information, call (415) 821-1155, or visit http://www.MissionCulturalCenter.org.
The exhibition premieres with an opening reception on Friday, April 18, from 7pm to 10pm, with refreshments and entertainment; admission to the reception is $5. To augment the exhibition, MCCLA has teamed with the Graduate Program of San Francisco Art Institute to present a free symposium on Saturday, April 19, from 10am to 3:30pm at SFAI (800 Chestnut St., San Francisco, http://www.sfai.edu), exploring various aspects of current approaches to Latin American/Latino art practice.
“The Question is Known” (the title was inspired by lyrics from a Jimi Hendrix song) includes works from private and public collections by artists from the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. The exhibition includes Latino/Latin American artists as well as non-Latinos for whom Latino/Caribbean art and culture have been sources of inspiration in their work. In an accompanying brochure, curator Anthony Torres writes that “The Question is Known” “is concerned with making what should be a simple and obvious statement — that Latino artists and art practices are diverse.”
On view are works by Vicente Antonorsi, Adrián Arias, José Bedia, Claudia Bernardi, Luis Camnitzer, Victor Cartagena, Rolando Castellón, Enrique Chagoya, Ana de la Cueva, Lewis deSoto, Miguel Farias, Juan Fuentes, Rupert Garcia, Manuel A. Gomez, Matt Gonzalez, Luis Gutierrez, Sylvia Ji, Rob Keller, Geraldine Lozano, Manuel Lucero, James Luna, Manuel Neri, Bernardo Roman Palau, Liliana Porter, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Clare Rojas, Claudio Roncoli, Raymond Saunders, Robin Savinar, and Nahum Zenil.
MCCLA Executive Director Jennie E. Rodríguez says, “For thirty years, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has presented exhibitions and programs that highlight the richness and diversity of Latino visual arts and cultural expression, and this exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for us to expand on this tradition.”
MCCLA Gallery Coordinator Patricia Rodríguez says, “In my seven years at MCCLA, I have coordinated and curated exhibitions that primarily focus on Latino artists from the Bay Area and throughout California, and have seen audience participation grow. This is a historic exhibition in the 30-year history of MCCLA, with the participation of national and international artists and important galleries and museums, and we hope it will add further audience support for our gallery, classes and programs.”
Through the works selected for “The Question is Known,” explains Torres, the exhibition “aims to interrogate the significance of ‘Latin American/Latino Art’ by problematizing, reformulating, and re-presenting ‘Latin American/Latino Art’ as an intellectual fabrication that is often ‘essentialized’ as a unitary subject or category.”
“The Question is Known” explores Latin American/Latino art as “a historically contingent ideological construction that is not ‘natural’ or given,” he continues, “but rather a hybrid of cultural creations that are fluid and mobile, established by contact, conflict, experience, sympathetic issue identification, and fantasy constructions, often constituted as living sources of inspiration, articulated through iconography, formal vocabularies, and personal associations.” The exhibition is thus “concerned with positing ‘Latino art’ as an ambiguous area of inquiry that raises issues, poses questions, and interrogates curatorial perspectives and institutional politics.”
SYMPOSIUM: Saturday April 19, 10am–3:30pm, San Francisco Art Institute — FREE
A related symposium on “The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art?,” co-presented by MCCLA and the SFAI Graduate Studies Division, takes place on Saturday, April 19, 10am-3:30pm, at San Francisco Art Institute (800 Chestnut St., San Francisco). The Symposium includes presentations by art historian Gerardo Mosquera, Adjunct Curator, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Alma Ruiz, Curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Judith Bettelheim, Professor of Art History, San Francisco State University; artist and human rights activist Claudia Bernardi; Hou Hanru, Director, Museum Studies Program, San Francisco Art Institute; and is moderated by exhibition curator and art critic Anthony Torres.
(3) ARTslant New York / Interview with Anthony Torres by DeWitt Cheng
San Francisco – ArtSlant’s DeWitt Cheng met Anthony Torres, the curator of The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art?, at Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts shortly after the show opened. They talked about the show as they strolled through the galleries. Torres was kind enough to clear up some points via e-mail later. This interview is the result of those conversations.
DeWitt Cheng – This is a wonderful show. You have pieces by 30 artists, mostly from the Bay Area, I believe. How did the show come about? Did MCCLA ‘s Patricia Rodriguez approach you with the idea, or was this something you’d wanted to do for a while?
Anthony Torres – This is a show that I had developed conceptually and theoretically, and thought it was important that it be presented by a Latino-based organization, so I approached the Mission Cultural Center, and they came on board. It came about as the result of issues I’ve been addressing and an orientation I have been formulating for some time. By proposing the show at a Latino community-based organization, I meant to assert in The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art? that the answer could be: it is “here”, elsewhere, and in a range of imaginary spaces. Patricia and MCCLA supported the idea of presenting the show and having me serve as a guest curator, and for that I am thankful.
DC – MCCLA has had, of course, an illustrious history showcasing the work of Latino artists, so this is the perfect venue. How did you choose the artists and, from among their work, the pieces we see here?
AT – Some of the artists, and their work, I have been familiar with for some time. In other cases, I selected work that I thought fit the overall orientation, which was concerned with making what I thought should be a simple and obvious statement — that Latino artists and art practices are diverse. In order to do so, I assembled work that I thought could articulate Latin American and Latino Art as an ambiguous area of inquiry, work that I thought, when presented together, was capable of challenging curatorial positions and that could formulate an expanded and inclusive redefinition of “American” art in an interconnected global dialogue for greater cross-cultural communication. Also, it’s important to mention a number of the artists are not from this area, but from other parts of this country or Latina America, for example Luis Camnitzer, James Luna, José Bedia, Ana de la Cueva, and others, and their work is not often seen here.
One thing I wanted was to demonstrate how specific art works evidence linkages between artists’ aesthetic choices and the diverse histories and intellectual discourses that inform them, and how the artists’ utilization of formal vocabularies and techniques referenced NOT a particular “type” of work or group of artists, but instead, would demonstrate the artists/works’ multi-cultural exposures and the specific cultural hybridity of the work. This may be constituted historically by contact, conflict, experience, or sympathetic identification with issues that relate to Latin America and Latinos, as sources of inspiration, personal associations, fantasy construction, and work that spoke of appropriated formal vocabularies that are mobile and fluid.
Another important part of this project was the Symposium held on April 19 at the San Francisco Art Institute, which included the participation of Judith Bettelheim, Alma Ruiz, Gerardo Mosquera, Claudia Bernardi, and Hou Hanru, again each with a unique perspective on the issues raised in this exhibition.
DC – Were there any aesthetic or stylistic guidelines beyond quality? There are many types of work here. It would seem that your goal was a snapshot of current artistic practice along the whole spectrum.
AT – Well, quality was a definite consideration and to a certain extent, I think it should be. However, it is not the only consideration nor is it the only issue. That being said, I want to be very clear, this exhibition was NEVER conceived as being representative, exemplary, indicative of anything that would speak to “essences” or generalities, as a survey, and definitely NOT, with presenting work and images that could simplistically be thought of as bound to geography or ethnicity. In fact, I was concerned with just the opposite — I was concerned with artistic “specificities” and therefore the show is intended to show a vast range of individual artistic practices.
So NO, I was not, and am not, nor do I think it is possible to construct a “snapshot” along “the” whole spectrum. Indeed, I don’t know that I know what the whole spectrum is.
DC – Any particular artists or pieces you’d like to highlight for visitors?
AT – I think people need to see the exhibit and come to their own conclusions. I think different works will resonate with different people differently. Each artist’s work obviously has its merits.
DC – Do you feel that Latino and other artists “of color” — I use the term advisedly— are now, after the politics of the 80s, able to be seen pretty much as equal partners and participants in the world of art? Or is there still a residual prejudice?
AT – I’m not altogether clear on what you mean by the politics of the 80s. I think certain artists have gained certain exposures and accesses, but if this project is about anything, it’s about moving away from speaking in those types of generalities. Do I think all artists are playing on an equal playing field? No, I don’t. But, I think there are a myriad of reasons why not, and those need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis, in all their complexity.
DC – Will this be a regularly scheduled exhibition? I’m sure the art community would love it.
AT – At this point it is unclear. I envisioned this project as a two-part or multi-phased intervention, but we’ll just have to wait and see how things develop. I don’t think the possible variations or issues that this exhibition opened up are played out. Not by a long shot.
DC – Thanks a lot. Great show. I look forward to following your future projects.
AT – My pleasure.
ArtSlant would like to thank Anthony Torres for his assistance in making this interview possible.
2011 — Critical Engagements: Negotiating Intercultural Sight/Site Specificities
(1) Anthony Torres, Independent Curator & Art Critic
Location: Miami University Art Museum, Oxford campusThis talk will focus on work of specific Latina artists in relation to the exhibition “The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art” The exhibition, curated by Anthony Torres, featured thirty artists whose works reflect a range of aesthetic and conceptual frameworks and material approaches. The exhibition is thus concerned with positing “Latino art” as an ambiguous area of inquiry that raises issues, poses questions, and interrogates curatorial perspectives and institutional politics. The exhibition was presented at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, in San Francisco.
Cosponsors: Miami University Art Museum and the Center for American and World Cultures
(2) Miami University: Anthony Torres, Independent Curator & Art Critic
Anthony Torres, Independent Curator & Art Critic
Critical Engagements: Negotiating Intercultural Sight/Site Specificities
This talk will focus on work of specific Latina artists in relation to the exhibition “The Question is Known: (W)here is Latin American/Latino Art” The exhibition, curated by Anthony Torres, featured thirty artists whose works reflect a range of aesthetic and conceptual frameworks and material approaches. The exhibition is thus concerned with positing “Latino art” as an ambiguous area of inquiry that raises issues, poses questions, and interrogates curatorial perspectives and institutional politics. The exhibition was presented at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, in San Francisco.
Cosponsors: Miami University Art Museum and the Center for American and World Cultures
Anthony Torres Abbreviated Biography
Anthony Torres is an Independent Curator and Art Writer. He writes critical reviews for the San Francisco Examiner, Oakland Tribune, Northside Publications, The Marina Times, New Fillmore, Art Papers, New Art Examiner and Artweek. Torres has curated and juried many exhibitions. In 2001 Torres received a Master of Arts, History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz. Torres research interests focus on art making as a means of cultural contestation and social transformation.