“NY – USA”November 17, 2012 - January 19, 2013
Adriana Lara: NY – USA
Algus Greenspon presents NY – USA, the first New York solo exhibition by Adriana Lara.
Adriana Lara’s work considers form and content in relation to their condition as language and its syntax. By presenting theories, symbols and words as structures of content these appear as meaning containers, sometimes begging for meaning (IT), sometimes avoiding it (text) and sometimes just playing with it (symbols). Either way, by shuffling signifiers and their context interpretation becomes form.
Interesting Theory is an ongoing series (begun in 2010) where abstract compositions are drawn from the intersection of earlier overlappings of forms. This procedure makes the series’ mechanics a generative principle analogous to the production of theories themselves. The designs created are mutable, adopting different formats and media. Here, in Interesting Theory #11-b, the composition is copied onto a raffia skirt and displayed as a painting.
In the main gallery, on the wall opposite Interesting Theory # 11-b, is a vinyl text piece legible only to someone fluent in an endangered dialect spoken in the Republic of Mali. This text was first written as a press release for another exhibition and never used. The number of people that speak this language is tiny and their interests, presumably, far removed from those of the artwork’s audience. The idea of presenting this text in an obscure language hides information, but this is not the intent. Rather, the idea is to have the text’s message (printed in comic sans, the font infamously used by CERN to announce this summer’s discovery of the Higgs boson) seen as form. Shown next to the text is a photograph of a paper sculpture made with Artforum advertising cutouts. These are used as raw material in a similar way. Together, the text and photograph form an installation titled Mixed Media.
Mediating the gallery installation, between Interesting Theory # 11-b and Mixed Media, are the Symbol Faces, a series of screen-printed stretched plastic paintings. Here affable genderless faces composed of type symbols (characters such as &, $, %, *, #, !) overlap transparent photographs of a Mexican actress who had a brief and marginally successful career in Mexico, Hollywood and Broadway during the 1930s. Being a cypher to a contemporary audience, this actress represents the sex symbol as the blank canvas that all symbols inevitably are. From aesthetic categories of color and format, surface and structure, to categorical stereotypes of gender and nationality, the diverse prints presented in the Symbol Faces are thought of as patterns of what concerns contemporary thought.
To conclude this exhibition’s proposition, Lara presents her most recent series, Smoking Kills, where design, color and subject matter appeal to the viewer by appropriating a ready-made marketing form: the cigarette package. Here a different case of interpretation is explored. Cigarettes come with so much attached meaning, that what is left to interpretation is simply desire, the need for possession.
Adriana Lara was born in 1978. She has had one-person exhibitions at House of Gaga, Mexico City, Air de Paris, Paris and most recently, S.S.O.R. (Symbolic Surface of Revolution) at Kusnsthalle Basel. The artist has been in numerous group exhibitions including dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, and The Generational: Younger than Jesus, at the New Museum, as well as a participant in the collaborative curatorial project Perros Negros and the music collective Lasser Moderna. Since 2006 Lara has been editor-in-chief of Pazmaker, an art quarterly published in Mexico City.