Performance Art: PORTRAIT OF ROSS
by EMILIO ROJAS, April Artist-in-Residence GES
Portrait of Ross
by artist in Residency Emilio Rojas, with Pamela Sneed at 7 pm
Exhibition: April 28 to May 8th
On January of 2016 I began collecting daily, for a year and half, the 175 pounds of candy in the piece Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA) 1991, by Felix Gonzalez-Torres from the Art Institute of Chicago, while being a grad student. This began as a place to initiate a dialogue around mourning, grief, celebration and the impact of loss in our queer communities during the AIDS crisis. Through this process I've been in dialogue with AIDS-activist/artist Paul Escriva, who has been a mentor and bridge connecting with this past, which created a rupture of an entire generation.
This collection lead to performances dealing with the loss of an entire generation to HIV/AIDS and was the closing performance of the Art AIDS America Chicago exhibition in 2017 . Through this process I’ve been working with the Visual AIDS archives in New York as well as interviewing survivors of the epidemic for the duration of one candy dissolving in their mouth. These interviews with surviving artists and activists, who developed a new aesthetics of politics and resistance, are being collected in a resource I call the arcHIVes. I realized that the word archive holds inside of it the virus itself. Through this process I've been in dialogue with Ross’s best friend, artist Carl George, who I interviewed to create the work Portrait of Ross. A transcription and video created from the interviews, where Carl retells the story of Ross’s life as an individual, so that he becomes more than just the mythological lover/partner/muse of Félix González-Torres. These interviews were carried with the same process of the arcHIVes, where Carl used each of the 8 different colored candy to talk about one aspect of Ross’s life for the duration of one candy in his mouth. The metaphorical body of Ross Laycock becomes not only the medium to access these oral histories but, by using the candy itself to write the archive into public spaces, becomes the way they are transcribed
For this durational performance, Untitled (Reunited) I will unwrap each candy collected and then dissolve the unwrapped candies into the Atlantic Ocean. In this way bringing together the bodies of the two lovers, since Felix’s ashes were dispersed into the ocean by his friend Julie Ault, as specified in his will, which is in the archive of Visual AIDS. The exhibition and performance completes six years of the project The Dead Taste Sweeter Than The Living performed at the Chicago Artist Coalition, De Paul Art Museum, Links Hall, Art AIDS in America Chicago , Alphawood Foundation, Dunlop Art Gallery, and Performatorium Festival, Regina.
EMILIO ROJAS [USA/MEXICO]
Emilio Rojas is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily with the body in performance, using video, photography, installation, public interventions, and sculpture. He holds an MFA in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in film from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada. As a queer Latinx immigrant with Indigenous heritage, it is essential to his practice to engage in the postcolonial ethical imperative to uncover, investigate, and make visible and audible undervalued or disparaged sites of knowledge, narratives, and individuals. He utilizes his body in a political and critical way, as an instrument to unearth removed traumas, embodied forms of decolonization, migration, and poetics of space. His research-based practice is heavily influenced by queer and feminist archives, border politics, botanical colonialism, and defaced monuments. Besides his artistic practice, he is also a translator, community activist, yoga teacher, and an anti-oppression facilitator with queer, migrant, and refugee youth.
His work has been exhibited in exhibitions and festivals in the US, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Austria, England, Greece, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, Colombia, and Australia, as well as institutions like The Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Ex-Teresa Arte Actual Museum and Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, The Vancouver Art Gallery, The Surrey Art Gallery, The DePaul Art Museum, and The Botin Foundation. Rojas is an Artist in Residency in the Theater and Performance Department at Bard College, 2019–2022; adjunct faculty at Parsons, The New School in Spring 2022; and the Tieger Fellow at Cornell University, 2022–2023, as well as visiting professor for the Low Residency in Visual Arts at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR and the Low Residency in Dance at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.
Interview with Emilio Rojas: http://www.title-magazine.com/2021/11/tracing-a-wound-through-my-body-interview-with-emilio-rojas/
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Grace, n. - simple elegance or refinement of movement
Grace Period - an extended period granted as a special favor
The Three Graces (Greek Mythology) - charm, grace, and beauty
Opened in 2006, Grace Exhibition Space is devoted exclusively to Performance Art. We offer an opportunity to experience visceral and challenging works by the current generation of international performance artists whether emerging, mid-career or established. Our events are presented on the floor, not on a stage, dissolving the boundary between artist and viewer. This is how performance art is meant to be experienced and our mission is the glorification of performance art.
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