Reflections From The (S) FilesPosted: June 17, 2011 | |
Out in El Museo del Barrio’s courtyard last night at the end of the opening for (S) Files, an exhibition of new art by over 70 artists whose ethnicities have roots in Latin America, the Carribbean and Mexico, artist Jacolby Satterwhite got extra busy on the dance floor, pulled along by a classic Mike Jack (Michael Jackson) track that I hadn’t heard in long time. It was a calm early summer night in East Harlem where Puerto Rican culture punctuates the stiff summer air with hyper beats and seductive rhythms. Earlier in the night, artist Miguel Luciano, a big basketball fan and player, was talking about how President Obama visited Puerto Rico this week and played to the crowd by dropping in some clunky Spanish and referencing JJ Barea, the little point guard from the island, who Kobe Bryant said “kicked our (the Lakers’) asses” and won the NBA title with the Mavericks. Then a young curator, here for the summer from San Francisco, talked about her graduate work on female video artists in Cuba; she wanted to have a very narrow focus in her research and I expressed that I wasn’t mad at that.
I walked around much of the night with Hitomi Iwasaki, chief curator at the Queens Museum of Art and a great friend. We talked about a lot of different situations, people, what-ifs, what we thought of this piece in front of us, and how I was liking my new job. We ran into mutual friends and chatted with them, trying not to break the flow but taking in their words like your eyes should at the sight of cherry blossoms. I relished seeing everyone I knew, people I’ve luckily met by being in this art game for a minute. I’m going to name-drop some of them now because I want their spiritual presence in this piece: Erin Sickler, Antonia Perez, Catherine Ruello, Alexander Campos, Alejandro “Alex” Guzman, Suzanne Broughel, Fran Benitez, Dean Daderko, Shaun Leonardo, McKendree Key, Cecilia Jurado, Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, Elvis Fuentes, Rafael Sanzhez, Rosa Karim, Chris Walia, Jayson Keeling, Christine Licata, Marysol Nieves, John Ahearn, Juanita Lanzo,William Villalongo, Manuel Acevedo, David Strauss, Prerana Reddy, and a bunch of others.
I’m curious to see what we’ll all do next and many wished me well in my new position. I invited everyone down to visit me and promised a tour, but I wonder how many will actually make it to Chinatown and I wonder what they’ll think of us. Chinese culture isn’t upbeat and outgoing, like Puerto Rican music, but it is hyper and loud. We have our own thing going on, our own aesthetic, our own style, our own weirdnesses, obsessions and flaws and we’re going to tell you about it.
I was subtly inspired last night by the show and by the crowd. I was all about Jayson Keeling’s intimate photographs of young, dangerous energy and that’s the work that sticks with me the day after, but I’ll go back and take it all in later. Everyone was dressed to impress and the weather welcomed it. The night started with me running into Catherine Ruello, who had just moved back from London. She’s a much needed presence here, a suspicious, subversive thinker with a light deameanor; she’s writing a book that she won’t tell me about. At 10pm, darkness gently imposed and bodies began to slither. That’s when Jacolby broke into the middle of the pack and did his thing, unchained to anything except the beat.