For the second iteration of The Neighbors at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, guest curator Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy organizes two concurrent exhibitions: Sanctuary, featuring work by the Andrea Bowers, and Home, presenting work by photographer Andrea Aragón. These dual exhibitions are presented in dialogue and provide alternative perspectives on immigration in the United States.
The Neighbors is part of a series of three small-scale, successive exhibitions of contemporary art organized by guest curator Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy for The Bronx Museum of the Arts.
One of the most socially committed artists working in the United States today, Andrea Bowers collaborates with activists and advocacy groups in the development of most of her projects. In creating the works included in the exhibition Sanctuary, the artist worked with individuals and organizations fighting towards a more considerate and humane treatment of immigrants, whether documented or undocumented. Bowers creatively participates in cause-driven efforts apart from her own art making, but also as part of an expanded practice that encompasses and makes use of her artistic skills and cultural agency. One of the ways that Bowers has actively participated in these efforts is by investigating and sourcing, as well as by creating and documenting imagery, placards, and ephemera of historic and current demonstrations.
Sanctuary features a body of work inspired by the story of the once-undocumented immigrant Elvira Arellano, who took sanctuary in a church in Chicago. Ms. Arellano, who Bowers interviewed for the creation of her work, was separated from her American-born child Saul when deported in 2007. The exhibition also presents a series of drawings from Bowers’s 2010 installation No Olvidado (Not Forgotten). Made in collaboration with the volunteer organization Border Angels, the work lists the names of individuals who have died while crossing the United States-Mexican border as a form of memorial.
The exhibition Home includes nine photographs by Andrea Aragón taken between 2000 and 2016. For years, Aragón has been steadily documenting the effects of emigration from her native Guatemala, where the artist lives and works. Mostly shot in rural areas, her images present the cultural connections that exist between local Guatemalans and their family members in the United States. Featuring individual and group portraits, the photographs are organized under three basic groupings: use of symbols, specifically the American flag; acquisition or markers of class mobility and acculturation; and communication between those who leave the country and those who stay behind. Aragón takes these portraits in the people’s immediate environment, whether inside their home, their neighborhoods, or village streets.
The exhibition series The Neighbors investigates artistic concerns and visual languages dealing with identity, an issue tackled less as a personal exploration of ethnicity alone than as an examination of the ways in which social classes are constructed and their divisions purportedly manifested. As the title may suggest, the series explores shared yet delimited territories, as well as the fact that the participating artists in the exhibition are in close proximity to (closely related, perhaps, although not exactly inhabiting or native of) the communities that they are working with or representing in their work.
The Neighbors features work by artists Andrea Aragón, Firelei Baez, Andrea Bowers, Rochele Gomez, Ignacio González Lang, Margaret Lee, Irvin Morazan, and Alejandra Seeber. For each exhibition, the graphic designer Gerardo Madera is producing a gallery leaflet out of his Common Satisfactory Standard Print Shop. Caza, featuring artworks by Gomez, Lee, and Seeber, is the first exhibition in the series and is on view at the museum until September 25, 2016. The second iteration of The Neighbors starts October 12, 2016 and is organized in two parts: Sanctuary – Andrea Bowers and Home – Andrea Aragón.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Andrea Bowers (b. 1965, Ohio, US) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include: In Situ 1- Andrea Bowers (2014), Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris; #sweetjane (2014) Pomona and Pitzer College Museum of Art, Claremont; Transformer (with Olga Koumoundouros) (2014), The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs; and The Weight of Relevance (2007), Wiener Secession, Vienna, traveled to The Power Plant, Toronto. This year, Bowers had solo exhibitions in her galleries, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York and Susanne Vieltmetter Los Angeles Projects. This fall, her work will be showcased in the group exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours) at the Jewish Museum in New York.
Andrea Aragón (b. 1970, Guatemala City, Guatemala) is a photographed working in Guatemala City. In 2015, The 9.99 Gallery in Gautemala presented her most recent solo exhibition. This year, her work is included in the Bienal Centroamericana, taking place at the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo y San José, Costa Rica, and in the group exhibitions Trama Centroamericana at Casa de América in Barcelona, Spain. She was one of four photographers that participated in the research project, Arquitectura de Remesas (2010), organized by the Centro Cultural España in Guatemala, of which investigation was published as an illustrated book and also presented as an exhibition that toured internationally. In 2010 and 2015, her work was included in PhotoEspaña at the Instituto de Cervantes in Madrid, Spain.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy is a contemporary art curator living in New York City. Since 2011, she has been the curator of contemporary art for Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. Previously, she was the director of Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, held curatorial positions in New York at Art in General and Americas Society, and guest-curated exhibitions for Kadist Art Foundation in Paris, MALBA in Buenos Aires, and the Center for Contemporary Art in Vilnius, among other places. In 2013, Sofía was artistic director and chief curator of the 9th Bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre; before that, she was an agent of dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel. Sofia teaches at the School of Visual Arts and is part of the board of directors at Triple Canopy and Creative Time, all in New York. www.thisandthat.site
The Neighbors is made possible by Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, Dillon Cohen and The Blessing Way Foundation, and Hotel Americano.