As the pandemic still rages on and election results are still in dispute, the cards have gained a central presence in our lives.
They can establish boundaries or limits. They can be distorted to reflect the policies or programs of their creators.
Open at 516 ARTS, âCounter Mappingâ seeks to oppose the dominant power structure to recover stories and memories of the place.
These artists define their own maps.
The idea came from Zuni Pueblo, where co-curator Jim Enote is the director of the A: shiwi A: wan museum and heritage center of the pueblo. Enote carried out a similar project there, inviting several Zuni artists to create regional maps from the Zuni perspective.
The 516 exhibition explores geography, identity, politics and the environment through painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation.
These maps investigate indigenous rights and environmental losses through art as activism.
“Some of us see the world as the maps depict it,” said co-commissioner Viola Arduini. âThere is always something left outside the performance.
Mallery Quetawki (Zuni Pueblo) 2018 ‘Healing Spirit’ signifies connections with the land, air and water that tribal members cherish. Acrylic painting on canvas moves from bright gardens and rainbows to lifeless, barren fields damaged by pollution and mining on tribal lands.
In the center stands the figure of Crow Woman, who uses her prayer, hope and indigenous knowledge to ‘push back’ the diseased land.
âShe represents the many Indigenous people who have risen to the challenge of representing their communities in science,â writes Quetawki, who works at the College of Pharmacy at the University of New Mexico. “The designs that evolved from the petroglyphs are circuits representing the expansion of knowledge throughout the native land, which includes both ancestral knowledge and that derived from university studies.”
Iranian immigrant Minoosh Zomorodinia (San Pablo, Calif.) Uses tracking apps to create her work.
âShe uses her own body to walk and explore space,â Arduini said.
The artist created “Golden Route 5” using birch wood and acrylic gold.
âIt’s the idea of ââmapping the terrain you don’t really belong to; it’s a take on a virtual procession, âArduini added.
Felipe Castelblanco’s 2021 two-channel video (Colombia / Switzerland) âAmazon Library / A Vertical Territory from Cartographies of the Unseenâ focuses on the region between the high mountains of the Andes and the lower Amazon. The region is an epicenter of land use conflicts involving the oil and mining industries, illicit agriculture (drugs), armed groups, indigenous communities and the Colombian state, writes the artist. Fragmented by opposing territorial claims, its
ecosystems have been disrupted by continued violence.
The video shows areas surrounded by the Rio Putumayo, a tributary of the Amazon.
Portland resident Ana Serrano’s “Latino McMansion No. 1” (detail) explores the intersection of her dual cultural identity – the first generation of Mexican America. Raised in Los Angeles, she is particularly captivated by the way residents modify and adorn their homes. For this exhibition commission, she creates a work-in-progress structure from cardboard, paper, acrylic, balsa and archival photo prints.
âThis represents a house being renovated from a single story house,â Arduini said. âThis is how Latinos change the built environment. There is this idea of ââcultural assimilation.
Navajo artist Steven Yazzie produced a four-channel video of the tribe’s four sacred mountains and the colors black, white, blue and yellow in a still image from 2017.
âIt’s a mural landscape,â Arduini said.
âCounter Mappingâ is part of 516 âDesierto Mountain Timeâ cross-border collaboration spanning 13 organizations, five states and two countries.
Small arts organizations include institutions in JuÃ¡rez, Mexico; El Paso; the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos; the Art Institute of Santa Fe; the Roswell Museum and Art Center; Colorado College; the New Mexico State University Museum of Art; The Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art and Denver’s RedLine Contemporary Art Center.