On view at ICA Miami is “And, perhaps, here, between” by artist and sculptor Harold Mendez. A first-generation American of Colombian and Mexican descent, Mendez’s work engages the long arc of hemispheric history, from ancestral cosmologies to the diasporic bits of knowledge that form such an important part of New World cultures. Working in photography, sculpture, and installation, Mendez’s objects explore cultural memory, ritual, and transnational experiences. The porous borders between fiction and truth, visibility and absence, material bluntness, and poetic moods run through his work, making a case for the articulation of complex narratives as the necessary outcome of the culturally rich and deeply stratified spaces of the Americas.
Alongside the photographs and objects that stem from the initial research, “And, perhaps, here, between” includes a series of related new works that employ both evocative found objects and cast sculptures. The exhibition includes a nearly one-ton counterweight sourced from a scrapyard in Captiva, Florida—a place Mendez explored during his residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2016. Quietly alluding to the headstone, the object both returns us to the initial quest for Ayón’s gravesite while also being a quite evocative object in its own right. Meticulously produced so as to capture all the creases and markings of disintegrating utilitarian objects, the objects are to be covered with fresh flower petals every few days. Permanence and transience, durability and fragility, value and waste, life and inanimateness—all are held in difficult tension in the work, endowing the object with an unexpectedly potent poetic dimension.
Mendez’s ten-year career survey “Let us gather in a flourishing way” premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 2020 and is touring museums in 2021, including the Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. He has participated in significant exhibitions, including “Being: New Photography 2018” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York. Mendez’s work has also been included in exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; LAXART, Los Angeles; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens; the Renaissance Society, Chicago; Project Row Houses, Houston; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, among other venues.