The Southwestern College Art Gallery is currently exhibiting CONTROverse: Contemporary Visions of the U.S.-Mexico Border, showcasing the work of a small but diverse group of multi-media artists, through Nov. 3. For these artists, the border exists as a rift that constitutes a controverse not universe, a place where artists are compelled to defend the humanity of people or imagine a dystopic future. The artists in this exhibition use the border as the context for their explorations of personal, technological, social and political relations in crisis.
“The artists included in CONTROverse employ new and old forms of technology to address issues and themes that are relevant to today’s society,” said John Lewis, co-director of the Southwestern College Art Gallery. “This show provides visitors with insight into cutting edge work being created by innovation-minded contemporary artists. This exhibition is important and timely, and attempts to cast an artistic framework around a world that Southwestern students know very well.”
CONTROverse highlights artists whose work crosses all media and disciplines, including work by Susy Bielak, Electronic Disturbance Theater/b.a.n.g. lab, Patricia Montoya, Katherine Sweetman, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, and Gustavo Vazquez.
Bielak presents “Portraits of San Ysidro,” an installation that serves as a variegated entrance into the town—interweaving excerpts from interviews, photographic portraits, projections and field recordings.
“Nano-Garage(s),” by particle group Electronic Disturbance Theater and b.a.n.g. lab, is a sci-fi video poem that speculates about nanotechnology’s future as a medium of resistance in the face of unchecked state control. Ricardo Dominguez, associate professor of visual arts at UC San Diego, is the founder of Electronic Disturbance Theater. EDT is known for its virtual sit-ins and other acts of “electronic civil disobedience” in Mexico and the United States, including most recently the UC virtual sit-in earlier this March and transborder immigrant tool, a mobile application to help border-crossers locate water and first aid.
The cacophonic blending of voices in the de la Torres work begins with their Mestizo background, a mixture of Spanish and indigenous ancestry. The artists frequently dip into the plethora of religious and political imagery to be found in Mexican culture. Working in glass, sculpture, painting and digital media, the brothers amalgamate multiple sources of inspiration into their astonishing, richly vibrant work.
Montoya presents her triptych video project consisting of interconnected short videos that examine the city landscape from the perspective of rooftops in Tijuana. The videos capture the iconicity of Tijuana as a conglomerate of memory traces of her childhood in Medellin, Colombia.
Sweetman’s documentary film, “Gringos Living in Tijuana,” provides a glimpse into the lives of seven very unusual inhabitants of that Mexican city. Derrik, Gerda, Jodi, Jason, Michael, Iana, and Jenny are not Hispanic, and they don’t exactly appear as though they would “blend in” in the Mexican border town that has been called one the most dirty and dangerous cities of North America. Yet this film follows these gringos, in their daily activities, while they show and explain why they chose to live in the city they love: Tijuana.
Vazquez, associate professor, film and digital media at UCSC and a former Southwestern College student, screens his 2007 documentary film “Que Viva La Lucha” (Wrestling in Tijuana). The film reflects his interest in cross-cultural visual studies and video design. Vazquez’s interest in border issues and identity has led to a series of independent and collaborative works. His experience of crossing borders has left an imprint offering a personal perspective and access to contemporary ethnographic projects.
The Southwestern College Art Gallery is located in room 710B. The college is located at 900 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista.
For information, call 421-6700, extension 5568 or e-mail pvasquez@ swccd.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org.