Abelardo Cruz Santiago: Shared Location (Family Portraits)
April 15- June 3, 2016
Booklyn is pleased to present Shared Location (Family Portraits), a compilation of over twenty collage works that Abelardo Cruz Santiago began in 2008.
The collages assume cleverly bizarre, playful hybrids of vintage Spanish, German, French, English, and Aztec illustrative book-pages and educational images of maps, political figures, and cultural relics, which Cruz-Santiago moderates with hand-drawn symbols, words, and other drawings that exist among a constellation of personal imagery. Influenced by fusing and negotiating with multiple cultural and linguistic experiences, in Mexico, the United States, and during studies in Germany, collectively these drawn interventions exist interchangingly as iconic cultural hybrids, critical subtext, and at times flippant notations.
Baseball caps, cowboy hats, masks referencing those worn during festivals such as in Cruz-Santiago’s birthplace of San Juan Mixtepec, and other created symbols exist atop and within Aztec carvings nearly as often as they cover the busts of American presidents (as in works such as “Miner’s Symbols,” “As Cowboys,” “George’s Hat Collection, or “American Tourist,” all from 2013).
Although Shared Location is the fifth in a series at Booklyn following artists whose work negotiates concerns that are at once personal and sociopolitical in nature, Abelardo is the first to note that his work is not (political), per se. “I like to just let the work happen… I don’t want to treat myself as the local, because then I’m disrupting it. I want to live within the jurisdiction, but not toggle with it. I want to learn the idiosyncratic language that exists; absorb versus disrupt it.”
As noted by the artist, this cultural toggling occurs like a child ethnographer, more curious than precarious, moving with ease and falling in sync with the social surroundings. When explaining the work, Cruz-Santiago notes the importance of early family memories growing up in Mixtepec, Mexico, and of later moving to Northern California, negotiating elements of each and both cultures.
The artist’s stint in Germany proffered further sources of cultural fusion and linguistic slippage, as in the varied meanings with the letters “ICE,” whether in rap culture, German, American slang, or the US customs (in an untitled work from 2014). Also included in the exhibition is Berlin Winter, in the form of a tourist postcard book of works made during this time.
Works such as “American Me,” from 2011, are painted atop Homeland Security Forms in such a way so as to leave textual indicators that note the paper’s history.
“Holy Wings” (2013) pairs images of eagles, nationalistic symbols of strength and individualism for several countries, with a cryptic, icon-like arch inside of which exists an eagle visually bred with the depiction of a dove.
Collectively, as in other works such as “White on White,” “Nike’s China Football,” “Jesus Chain,” “Capitals,” or “Orange Decoration,” “Hat Dreams,” or “Latin Fatherland,” references both appropriate and at times seemingly abolish their affiliatory concerns.
This exhibition is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and additionally in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
View/purchase related artist book here.