Friday, February 11, 2011

New Art Exhibit: La Llorona Unfabled

La Llorona Unfabled is an exhibit opening this weekend at  Galería de la Raza in San Francisco, CA.

From the gallery website:

Galeria de la Raza is pleased to spring forward into 2011 with a multi-media installation "La Llorona Unfabled: Stores to (Re)tell To Little Girls." Comprising of media from paintings and drawings to videos, a public art project, and a digital mural, the exhibition showcases the Mexican folktale of La Llorona, known as “the wailing/weeping woman” as a focal subject.

Lead artist Ana Teresa Fernandez uses La Llorona as a launching point to reconfigure the metaphorical imagery of this colonial-era legend in which a poor Mexican woman, abandoned by her noble husband, drowns her children and herself out of grief. As punishment, her spirit is condemned to wander eternally, haunting riverbanks at night searching for her lost children. Fernandez’s reinterpretation of the folktale, which depicts its central female figure as weak and destructive, comments on restrictive identities imposed on women and oppressive views of immigrants present in our society.

In turn, artists Monica Enriquez-Enriquez, Geraldine Lozano, Rosario Sotelo, and Tanya Vlach respond to these issues of gender, class, and cultural identity through their own perspectives in video-based works and through the collective lens of unique experiences as Latina immigrants, creating new narratives from a modern feminist perspective. The works invite the visitor to view the immigrant experience and the crossing of borders through this unusual viewpoint that blends cultural narratives, sexual identity, and personal transformatio

The symbol of water as a signifier for the weak and weeping Llorona is the central vein running through Fernandez’s work in which she explores the often-constrictive stereotypes imposed on women. In one installation, we see the artist swimming laps in a cocktail dress and stilettos, as these conventions of feminine identity take on a literal weight and drag her down. In another work, Fernandez re-enacts the familiar fairytale of the princess with the glass slipper waiting for her prince as the glass stilettos she stands on literally melt away, commenting on how these myths serve to paralyze young women from being protagonists in their own stories. Fernandez also transforms the derogatory term “wetback” in another piece, as we see a figure bent over in the polluted waters of the San Diego Tijuana border absorbing the filth with her hair, offering us an alternate Llorona - one not associated with victimization and death, but with restoration and resilience.

The response to La Llorona in the form of commentary, identity, and challenge is reflected in the supporting artists’ work. In her installation, with a bag full of desire, Colombian artist Enriquez-Enriquez features conversations with queer migrants. She blends these narratives with images of bondage, to explore the themes of “marginal desire” and queer difference. In GeraLupe, artist Lozano, a resident of Ciudad Juarez, comments on the violence committed against women. She revisits the legacy of Chicana artists Yolanda Lopez and Ester Hernandez and depicts an everyday woman as La Virgen, contrasting this sacred archetype of love, life and the divine with the everyday violence and fear women on the U.S./Mexico border endure. Related, Sotelo’s participation is informed by research she developed for Sanctuary City/Ciudad Santuario, 1989-2009, a multimedia exhibition and documentation project led by Sergio de la Torre on the increase in federal immigration raids after 9/11 in the Bay Area . Sotelo has been able to identify three women in process of deportation who have agreed to participate in her project and tell their stories. Lastly, in El Ojo Supernatural, artist Vlach draws from a personal near-death experience to explore the concept of humanity and ideas of reinvention and transformation through emerging technologie

Together, all featured in "Unfabled" revisit the La Llorona legend with “dry eyes” and create a visual language that examines how Latina immigrants view themselves and that speaks to the feelings of nostalgia, loss, transformation and renewal associated with the migrant experience.

"La Llorona Unfabled: Stores to (Re)tell To Little Girls" is made possible thanks to the support of the Creative Work Fund and the Zellerbach Family Fund.

From Deconstructing Cinderella, deconstructing La Llorona by Emily Appelbaum, this is just an excerpt:

They say you shouldn't judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Ana Teresa Fernandez, the featured artist in Galería de la Raza’s upcoming video exhibition “La Llarona Unfabled,” (opening Sat/12) has obliged in regards to that feminist foil, Cinderella. For her video installation, Fernandez spent hours standing wearing a melting pair of “glass slippers” made of ice on a dirty West Oakland street. The experience, she feels, left her more than qualified to criticize the social constructs embodied by fairy tale's scullery maid-cum-princess.

Originally conceived by Galería’s executive director Carolina Ponce de León, “La Llorona Unfabled” will include work from four other artists: Monica Enriquez-Enriquez, Geraldine Lozano, Rosario Sotelo, and Tanya Vlach. The five will respond to issues of gender, class, identity, and migration in an effort to re-craft cultural narratives into feminist and Latina perspectives.

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