Civil Disobedience.

Art as activism at Hardcore Art Contemporary SpaceHardcore Art Contemporary Space – HACS – made its debut in Wynwood in November 2005 during Art Basel Miami Beach. At the helm of this gallery is Director Andreina Fuentes, a respected Museologist in Latin America and the United States, and Chief Curator Milagros Bello, Ph. D. HACS focuses on the category of hardcore art, a term coined by French curator Jérome Sans, who organized a 2003 exhibit titled “Hardcore – Towards a New Activism” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. The exhibit focused on art as a medium for political activism and resistance, and featured artists who expressed their views on the politics, culture, and sociology of their world in the rawest form possible. As Sans put it in his introduction to the catalogue for the exhibit, “At a time of widespread obsession with the rise of violence, of unending debate about crime and the treat of terrorism, hardcore questions radicalness and violence. These are concepts that now figure in the work of many contemporary artists who are developing an attitude that is akin to a certain activism.” From the current and upcoming exhibits at Hardcore Art Contemporary Space, it is obvious that art as activism is penetrating the mainstream art world. Currently on display at HACS is Four Exhibitions curated by Milagros Bello and featuring the work of artists Antuan, Richard Garet, and Leonor Mendoza. Upon walking in to HACS’ main space, one is immediately confronted with Cuban artist Antuan’s Post-Human, a mix of installation and photographs which critics have referred to as exhibiting a “language of conscience”. One of the largest pieces in this exhibit is Cosecha de Pasos ( Harvest of Steps), an installation composed of various pairs of worn men’s and women’s shoes in which clumps of tall grass are placed in lieu of legs. The initial image is tragic, sad, and a bit lonely – shoes that seem to be walking but aren’t moving and really have nowhere to go. After examining it further, one notices that some of the grass inside each shoe is greener than the one next to it, and that one pair has taller or shorter or drier grass than its neighboring pair of shoes. Antuan’s message is a mix of both hope and tragedy, expressing that for some, the grass really is green despite what the outward appearance may project. Another of Antuan’s most striking pieces is Testimonios (Testimonials). Before leaving Cuba, the artist had people of all different ages, genders, and professions write out testimonials about their lives. These frank and honest letters are not only a reflection of Castro’s oppressive regime, but the fears and dreams of a nation. Among other narratives, a prostitute recounts her life on the streets, a daughter gives thanks to her mother-in-law, and a young man describes his dreams of pure happiness and freedom. In the project room is new media artist Richard Garet’s video installation, Self. Garet’s work combines the juxtaposition of non-narrative images accompanied by an abstract soundscape. What happens in the viewing process is an example of how perception becomes reality. In watching Garet’s videos, you aren’t watching what Garet wants you to see, but rather, what you want to see. The abstract combination of images become reflections of each viewer, “self-portraits” done in a purely perceptual sense. In Room 4 Leonor Mendoza’s clean and painful large-scale collection of photographs, Oral/Sensual, explore the oppression of the female voice. Each piece depicts a woman’s tongue in various positions of torture. All the photos stop short of being a bloody nightmare. Scissor 2000-06 depicts a scissor cutting into a woman’s tongue, while Lace 2000-06 shows a shoelace almost cutting the tongue in half. Mendoza’s work is the most obvious of the show, but the exhibit has a lot to digest, exemplifying San’s definition of hardcore art as “…material for provoking a reaction, for questioning, rather than something to be contemplated”. Hardcore Art Contemporary Space has a busy year ahead, packed full of exhibitions, festivals, and much more hardcore. By Mia Saavedra For more information, please call: 305.576.1645

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