September 5 – October 10, 2015│ CUE Art Foundation │ New York, NY
Country, Home is an exhibition of multiple narratives by differing immigrant and first-generation American artists, exploring the particular tensions and challenges of these culturally and socially under-recognized groups. The exhibit won CUE’s 2014 Open Call for Curatorial Proposals.
excerpts from essays
Country, Home by Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell
Country, Home makes us face our double standards. The works in this group show individually express the challenges and complexities of immigrant life in America, occupying the space between our lofty multicultural values and our whitewashed reality.
Through their work artists Golnar Adili, Adela Andea, Michael Borek, chukwumaa, Elnaz Javani, Jerry Truong, and Rodrigo Valenzuela, designate immigrant groups as the center of discussions on art, practice, American values, socio-economics, and class. The lens of the mainstream distorts its subjects to those in the center and those on the fringes—often causing rampant misunderstanding and forced invisibility of the latter. Coming out of the fringes on their own terms, these artists present their voices, experiences, and concerns through differing art forms.
Culture blooms best where the realities of people’s lives meet the discipline of artists’ creativity, and builds a conversation that bridges across nationalities, ethnicities, generations and social standing. While identity issues are far too complex to be neatly summarized in art or an essay, these artists provide a vital glimpse into the narrative of the “other”—and specifically the under-recognized perspectives of immigrant and 1st generation Americans. It is important that this narrative exists and that it be widely consumed to begin to undo the staggering injustice of mis- and under-representation that is the current norm.
Migrations by Ian Epstein
Migrations create lacunae. They cause erasures. They occur for reasons that are obvious and obfuscated in equal measure. They ensnare people in webs of unfamiliar language and trauma, forcING engagement with unknown rules and routines. They scrub the lived histories off of people on their way from one nationality to another. Migration has a way of twisting from stories any specificity, removing the details, like a wet cloth expels a liquid. Yet art is capable of expressing this loss; it can untwist the cloth. It is able to show us what we cannot say in a glance or an extended stare, a breath, a tube of color, a thread, a photograph of light from years ago. It can make present histories that are difficult to manifest. There is, in short, a volubility in art that gives shape to the erasures caused by human migrations.
“Country Home” – it’s a phrase that can be turned over endlessly, dialogically, in the mind: Does it refer to a place or a structure? Someone’s home country, or their country home? Are we talking about a state of mind or a nation state? There is a difference between country and home, but each shifts what it means to reside in the other. Every country has its idea of home, and each home expresses unspoken attributes of its country.
All the pieces in Country Home make me think about how, while the earliest museums grew out of homes, it hardly meant they were welcoming. It means that, like homes or countries, they relied on certain fixed ideas about ownership and land, membership and belonging, participation and process. Access in many ways was restricted; in many ways it remains so. Interaction between people and property is fenced, regulated and structured. We force what we value into view and shove what we do not out of sight through ignorance, neglect, or omission. We instead settle unthinkingly and complacently into a set of conditions that are usually advantageous to the owners over the viewers. Invitation to these places is often exclusive, rippling lightly through affiliations of kinship that largely exclude those who do not know how to knock on the door.
Please contact the gallery for a copy of the catalogue and to view the essays in their entirety.