REVIEW: NY ARTS Magazine reviews El Museo del Barrio’s superrealSaturday, February 16th, 2013 Categories: Reviews, Updates
superreal, presented by El Museo del Barrio is a photography and video exhibition that explores alternative realities from 1980 to today. The artists’ own creations of alternative realities through the use of photographic mediums that traditionally assert our understanding of what is real directly challenge the viewer. Our worlds of landscapes, human figures, architecture, objects and natural phenomena are caught in a striking dichotomy: emphasis versus subversion, obscurity versus revelation. superreal features 70 works by artists such as ADÁL, Tania Bruguera, Vik Muniz, Miguel Rio Branco, Betsabee Romero, and Andres Serrano.
On the exhibition, curator Rocio Aranda-Alvarado states: “(this) is an exciting exhibition that explores alternative realities and challenges how the photographic lens is traditionally understood as a reflection of actuality. The majority of the works in the exhibition come from El Museo’s permanent collection, and most have never been shown.
For example, a selection of photographs by Miguel Rio Branco represents one of the constants in the exhibition in terms of exploring reality, perception and invention. These works, in particular, confound the viewer’s wish for a complete narrative form as experienced through a series of photographs. Instead, the images act as moments that are enigmatic, resisting immediate comprehension. They provoke the viewer to find commonalities in form, color, abstracted figures and the emotions evoked by the combination of these. Figures cross the picture plane but remain mysterious. Animal and colors float throughout the photographs, adding touches that seem to apply a narrative form but that defy complete clarity.
In a series of six photographs, Las Hermanas Iglesias, sisters Janelle and Lisa Igelsias, wear knitted body suits created by their mother, Bodhild Iglesias. The sisters donned their knitted naked suits and explored the unique landscape of Tazmania through these alternative bodies. Placed against the various scenes of the Tasmanian panorama, their “knitted” nude bodies complicate the historic narrative of the nude photographed in the landscape.
Relationships between things represented in a photograph or video are called into question in various works. Betsabee Romero’s “Ayate con Perro” features a 1955 Ford Victoria covered in Ayate fabric and filled to the top with dried roses. Parked on the border between Tijuana and San Diego, both the car and the dog symbolize the realities of border crossing. A set of four silver gelatin prints by John Albok of the 1963 Puerto Rican Day Parade features an array of beauty queens topped by unlikely oversized objects such as sewing machines (on the garment workers’ union float) and artificial palm trees. The contradictory nature of oversized objects of everyday life or foliage that belongs elsewhere adds to the surreal effect of these photographs.”
superreal is on view at El Museo Del Barrio from Wednesday, February 6 to Sunday, May 19, 2013.
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