The history of Mexican migration to the United States informs my work. What does it mean to feel like a foreigner in your own country? My work addresses the ways in which migrant communities make place, and leisure. I visit and document social settings, such as flea markets and parks to visually map and translate into photographs and sculptures. Brown cartographies of public spaces permit me to reflect on my own desires and respond. With interest to engender alternative worlds that allow me to exist beyond the present moment. A ritual, meditation, both to escape from socially unjust realities.
Xavier Robles Armas was born in 1991 in Zacatecas, Mexico. He is a New York based artist and curator by way of Santa Ana, California. Informed by culturally specific leisurely practices of place-making he makes photographs and sculptures interrogating his queer non-binary Mexican immigrant experience. He has exhibited globally and has been a teaching artist at Southern Exposure in San Francisco, California, and a curator-in-residence at ProArts Oakland. He will be exhibiting work in an upcoming solo show at La MaMa Galleria in New York in 2022.
Images courtesy the artist.
Interview questions developed by 2020 AIM Curatorial Intern Niuniu Zhang.
Q&A with Xavier Robles Armas
In your opinion, what role does art play in 2020 amidst the events of the past year?
Art has become the breath of our existence and in the breath we are able to find a type of consciousness that we have not had the time to fully understand in previous years until recently. Art has also been the rupture within the world and in the opening we’ve allowed ourselves to develop new possibilities of seeing the world. Art has always been generous and offered a space of critical conversations and in the year 2020 we have managed to catch up, sit down, burn, deconstruct and tear old notions of life apart so that we can better understand what art can look like today and simultaneously tomorrow.
Mama con el Mata Moscas
Archival Inkjet Print
36 x 24 in.
Enter through the heart
Archival Inkjet Print
18 x 24 in
What has been your most recent artistic concern?
I have more questions regarding our human desires and how our psychological and metaphysical contributions affect the ecologies of life. I’m interested in the idea of play and leisure as anti-capitalist strategies for ideation as we deal with our current social and global problems. Equilibrium is another concern of mine as I think about stretching as a global concept for building new worlds. Additionally light, shadow and mirrors as psychological concepts that further allow us to connect with our dreams and ourselves. Herbal and homeopathic medicinal practices have also been heightened as solutions for care and grounding. I’m finding comfort in placelessness and mirrors as ways to come to terms with oneself.
Has your art, practice, or ways of thinking about art changed focus during the past year?
I think the approach to my practice has shifted in the ways I ask myself what kind of conversations I want to have and who can contribute to them. Before I was concerned with the rigor of conceptual thought that I almost forgot to play and enjoy what I was doing. I now feel as if I’m returning to a place of enjoyment and passion, a more meditative state that has shown me the importance of slowing down. I’ve been thinking about the cyclical ways of the water cycle and how different forms of water come to life yet all exist within this cycle. Specially now I see my photographs informing my sculptures. The longer I sit with the images, new regenerative things move forward threading through similar ideas and thoughts.
How have you been connecting to art or your art community during COVID?
I’ve been attending lots of different zoom artist talks & delving into a spectrum of research interests which often ends up leading me to specific artists. For example the other day I was looking at Light Work Org’s instagram which led me to David Alekhougie’s work. His insight on the landscape and the ways black culture has developed symbols and codes became intriguing to me as I have been wrapping up a series of self portraits embedded with symbol and gestures of a Mexican-American upbringing as I attempt to find comfort in mirrors, ritual and feeling in between places and simultaneously in a state of placelessness. I’ve also been attending zoom parties offering a place for dancing and escaping the current state of the world.