Lamentable tierra / Sorrow Land
Clemente Castor, Carlos Iván Hernández, and Federico Martínez
Curated by Joaquín Trujillo
Opening Reception: September 11, 2019 | 6-8pm
Celebrate Mexico Now Festival Reception: Oct 8th | 6-8pm
Exhibition dates: September 11 – October 25, 2019
Video Screening at 128:Tuesday – Saturday, 4:30-6pm, 84 minutes
Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is pleased to present Lamentable tierra / Sorrow Land, opening September 11th from 6–8 pm, and running through October 25th. This exhibition exposes both Mexico’s forgotten rural and tumultuous suburban landscapes through the lenses of three contemporary Mexican artists, Clemente Castor, Carlos Iván Hernández, and Federico Martínez. Organized in part by Joaquín Trujillo – who recalls working the land in Zacatecas as a child before migrating to Los Angeles – and in partnership with SOMA Mexico City and the Celebrate Mexico Now Festival, it explores the aesthetic aftermath of the neoliberal takeover and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which caused a mass migration of people from Mexico to the United States.
With the arrival of neoliberalism, Mexico’s fields were left to suffer a slow death, the border filled with cheap labor, and young farmers turned desperately to the horrifying conditions of the sweatshops. Federico Martínez, an artist from rural Zacatecas, had to reinvent himself by reinventing the landscape of his present. First, Martínez documented those abandoned spaces that have mutated to become ruins –such as that unfertile soil where we see nothing but a cloud of dust floating in the air. Then, he juxtaposes those images, using the metaphor of the weaving of Mexican sarapes, while showing a spectrum of strong colors referring to the elements of the earth.
Working both in sculpture and photography, Carlos Iván Hernández constructs sculptures using materials, such as cow manure, clay, grass, and barbed wire, collected from a farm close to his hometown in Hermosillo, Sonora. These delicate yet weighted and clunky forms nod the current tension between the US and Mexican border. With the loss of many jobs, migration out of the northern rural areas of Mexico has become rampant. Hernandez’s sparse photographs of the sculptures reflect this absence, all the while addressing this broken borders and gaps in understanding.
Clemente Castor’s eloquent video work, Principe de Paz (Prince of Peace), follows the path of several youths as they navigate the periphery of Mexico City, through neighborhoods ravaged by the drug trade and violence. Existing in a semi-fantastical world, the boys find a giant’s skeleton leading to new engagements with the local community. Exploring the deep seeded rituals and customs of the region, Castor’s video presents an alternative view to the existing structure.
In Lamentable tierra / Sorrow Land, the different processes and chromatic disparities speak of new aesthetic possibilities for Mexico’s landscapes, both rural and suburban, away from idealized stereotypes of Mexicanity. While addressing the political implications of the abandonment of rural Mexico, the exhibition also gives attention to the rise of suburban turmoil as many previously rural dwellers move to the city to find work.
–text by Lorena Marrón
Clemente Castor (b. Mexico City) is a multidisciplinary artist who works with installation, cinema, and drawing. His work straddles his interests in religious syncretism, foundational myths, youth culture, and the reinvention of popular fictions. Throughout his work, the idea of the image as a system of representation and its functionality as a political tool takes root. Castor studied Latin American literature at the Iberoamericana University and is a recipient of a grant from the National Fund for Culture and the Arts (FONCA) of Mexico. Currently he is studying for an MFA in contemporary art at SOMA, Mexico. Castor has directed multiple short films and the feature film ‘Prince of Peace,’ all of which have been screened in national and international film festivals in Tijuana, Colombia, Bosnia, Vienna, Argentina, Houston, and France among others. Castor is the recipient of multiple awards and has exhibited his installation work in various independent spaces and contemporary art museums such as Biquini Wax EPS, Queretaro Contemporary Art Museum, and SOMA.
Carlos Iván Hernández (b. Mexico City, 1984) studied Visual Arts and Graphic Design in Hermosillo, Sonora, and in Mexico City. He attended the SOMA 2016-17 educational program, and the PFC Noroeste Contemporary Photography Program in 2014. His work has been exhibited in Mexico, the United States, Spain, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Italy and London. Carlos Iván was part of the residence of artistic production Transvisiones Alcobendas, in Madrid in 2015. He won the Acquisition Prize at the First Contest of Contemporary Photography in Mexico in 2012, as well as at the Seventh Biennial of Visual Arts of Sonora 2010. Recipient of Young Creators Scholarship Fonca 2013 -2014 and the State Fund for Culture and Arts FECAS Sonora in 2012-2013 and 2008-2009.
Federico Martínez Rodríguez (Jerez, Zacatecas, 1985) began his professional career as a photography and production assistant in the feature film Zacateco. He also collaborated on Life Without Memory Seems Sweet and The Morning Does Not Start Here. His photographs have been published in the cultural supplements La Gualdra and La Soldadera, from the newspapers La Jornada Zacatecas and Sol de Zacatecas, respectively. He is the winner of the state Forestry Vision contest (2015), and obtained honorable mentions in national competitions in 2014, 2016 and 2017. His photographic work has been presented in ten group exhibitions and three solo exhibitions in several municipalities of the state of Zacatecas. He has also participated in group exhibitions in the state of Querétaro, and the city of New York. He was granted the 2017-2018 Grant of the Program of Stimuli for the Creation and Artistic Development of Zacatecas (PECDAZ) in the discipline of Visual Arts.
Joaquín Trujillo (Los Angeles, California, 1976. Raised in Zacatecas, Mexico. Lives between Brooklyn, NY and Zacatecas). Artist, curator, editor and the youngest of eleven siblings, Joaquín Trujillo was raised in a small town on the outskirts of Zacatecas, México. His determination manifested itself at the early age of 12 when he left his home for Los Angeles. There he lived with his brothers in a one-bedroom apartment. He remembers his first trip home after months of living in LA. Riding in the back of the pickup on the dirt road to his parent’s ranch, the landscape was clouded by dust being kicked up from the truck’s oversized wheels. As they neared the front porch, his father’s face appeared through the dissipating sediment. He was older. Traveling back and forth from LA to Mexico became Joaquin’s way of life –a way of nomadic stability. With one bag still packed, he now calls Brooklyn home. These consistent breaks for time and space are sewn into the fabrics of his work and influences. While many artists step behind the lens to capture a moment, Joaquin uses the camera to reconstruct the past –to fill in the gaps. He imports a body of work and a worldview inflected with a freshness of vision and technique. His potent yet subtle approach to color and texture emulates a structured slippage of heritage. Building upon the dichotomy of his Mexican heritage and American education, he weaves together an uncanny modality of childhood innocence across culture, place and time.
This exhibition is presented in partnership with:
SOMA is a non-profit organization conceived to nurture discussion and exchange in the field of contemporary art and education in Mexico City. They build platforms to collectively investigate what art can become and how it can function in different contexts. More information can be found at www.somamexico.org.
The Celebrate Mexico Now Festival showcases more than 300 artists in 97 venues across New York City, this year celebrating its 16th year. Celebrate Mexico Now annually invites audiences to celebrate the creativity, heritage, and heart that contemporary Mexican artists bring to every arts field. The Festival’s expansive repertoire disrupts the often narrow definitions of Mexican culture by exploring the way contemporary artists are reflecting, reshaping and revisioning Mexican identity in the ever-changing global context. More information can be found at www.mexiconowfestival.org.
This exhibition is part of a series of guest-curated exhibitions at Baxter St at CCNY resulting from an open call for proposals, and is made possible in part by generous support from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Steven Amedee Framing, and Yarden Wines. Baxter St is W.A.G.E. certified.