Rubén Ortiz Torres
Curated by Kaytie Johnson
Leaving Aztlán: Redux presents the work of contemporary U.S. artists who, by engaging a wide range of contemporary artistic practices, forms and strategies, produce work that challenges stereotypical perceptions of Chicana/o and Latina/o art as a homogenous “style” defined solely in culturally specific terms. The artists in this exhibition utilize culturally ambiguous formal and conceptual strategies that defy one-dimensional readings, and situate their work not within the confines and constructs of an ethnically based visual ghetto, but within the larger, global context of contemporary art.
Rather than completely divorcing themselves from the visual legacy created by Latina/o and Chicana/o artists from previous generations, whose work was primarily informed by a collective ideology and cultural nationalism that shaped a visual expression of “Chicanismo,” these artists instead produce work that resists a culturally essentialist reading. They accomplish this through the use of hybridity as a formal and conceptual strategy that fuses their position as both Chicanos in the U.S. and artists within the greater global community; by adopting formal approaches and subject matter that thwart attempts to align their work with a specific ethnicity; and by appropriating forms of popular culture that are ethnically specific in order to challenge cultural and aesthetic hierarchies.
In the body of work presented in this exhibition, cultural stereotypes are not perpetuated, but critiqued, lampooned, and subverted through the use of diverse media, including photography, site-specific installation, video, painting and sculpture. The group of post-identity practitioners represented in Leaving Aztlán: Redux, create work that represents the wide range of expression found in the Latina/o Chicana/o diaspora, and moves in new directions, addresses new concerns, and encompasses a broader range of formal and conceptual sensibilities and strategies.
This new generation of artists are mapping out new and important terrain as their work forces us to question, more than ever before, what it means to label work as “Chicana/o” or Latina/o” art, as well as what constitutes the relationship between ethnicity and artistic production.