Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mellorado, Gallerysmith until 14 April 2012

Mellorado, installation view

Mellorado, installation view

Mellorado, installation view

My second major solo show titled "Mellorado" opened last week at Gallerysmith in North Melbourne. The exhibition was opened by Dr Patrick Snelling, artist, educator and curator.  It was a challenging task to install the mostly three-dimensional work in the gallery which includes a series of 11 cloth figures and numerous painted gourds.  

Mellorado explores the interconnections between family, identity, culture and heritage, the impact of migration and travel; and cultural transmission.  An exploration of my personal and family history, supported by two substantial periods of field study in Montevideo, Uruguay. The artwork was born out of a two year research project for my Master of Fine Arts degree through the College of Fine Arts/University of New South Wales.  The research represents my continuing interest in the experience (and inherent politics) of hybrid identity by engaging with my mixed African, Uruguayan and European ancestry.  The artwork links  family narratives with significant cultural and historical events such as the Uruguayan civic-military dictatorship (1973-1985), the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Australian and Uruguayan Bicentenaries 1788-1988 and 1811-2011 respectively.   

Adopting the standpoint of both researcher and subject, I investigate the role of the family archive and the autobiographical within contemporary art practice.  I am interested in the continual re-working or rehearsal of connections between personal and cultural memories as a strategy within contemporary art practice. Specifically in relation to work that references the topics of migration, exile, diaspora and displacement in conjunction with family history, gender and race.  I found inspiration in the work of Aleks Danko, Vivan Sundaram, Fiona Foley and Maria Magdalena Campos Pons. The process of rehearsal also brings the traditional into the contemporary and functions not so much as a challenge to the past, but to the present and/or a possible future. For this research I looked to post-colonial theoretical perspectives on displacement and diaspora in addition to the use of autobiographical references and ancestral histories. I was particularly drawn to the writing of Nikos Papasteriadis, Ghassan Hage, Okwui Enwezor and Pal Ahluwalia.  

By its very nature, the creation and dissemination of art is a form of cultural transmission, a product of the specific conditions under which it is made.  My work aims to create a tension between the celebratory and the realities of living between cultures.  The combination of image (pattern, colour and texture) and 'Spanglish' text, whilst on first impressions may appear decorative or inaccessible,  attempt to reveal the political undercurrents of my work and the complexity of cultural identity. Mellorado translates my ancestral investigations and experience of migration into an exploratory visual language,  simultaneously questioning and reaffirming a sense of belonging.   

Mellorado is on show until Saturday 14 April 2012 at Gallerysmith, North Melbourne. To view the works in the exhibition click here