MEDIA RELEASE: 11 October 2018 – R00179
While acclaimed artist Alejandro Cartagena’s work focuses mainly on suburban life in Mexico, the themes expressed in his photographs bear uncanny resemblances to issues also currently impacting Canadians.
Brock Visual Arts Professor Amy Friend said it’s that universality that made Cartagena’s work so appealing and was why she invited him to this year’s Walker Cultural Leaders Series at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.
“I’ve seen Cartagena’s work making an impact in how he is able to question political issues, mostly focused in Mexico, but I think there is a really universal message in what he is presenting,” she said. “It’s also important for students and the public to interact on a personal basis with a successful, working artist. To see that these are real people making real work in the real world — and it’s creating a dialogue.”
Cartagena is presenting an exhibition, Presidential Guide to Selfies, and giving a public lecture titled Visualizing Space and Some Ideas of Homeownership 2006 to 2018. The exhibition opening reception and the lecture both take place on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and are free and open to the public.
Hosted in the VISA Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at MIWSFPA, Presidential Guide to Selfies asks people to question the motives behind Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s vast collection of publicly shared selfies.
Cartagena has curated a selection of these selfies (currently posted to the President’s Official website) as a means to examine whether these images are being shared to show the Mexican President’s engagement with the people of his country, or whether it’s merely an exercise in vanity as he poses with his fans.
Cartagena has also created an accompanying photobook for this exhibition in which he details the events surrounding each selfie. Friend noted that in an age of cell phones and social media, and with Canada’s own Justin Trudeau often affectionately and critically called ‘Prime Minister Selfie,’ the exhibition’s exploration of politics, social media connectivity and celebrity culture is exceptionally timely.
Following the gallery opening, Cartagena will explore the interdependence of humans and landscape in the face of urban expansion in a lecture drawing from his own body of work.
Carpoolers, for example, is comprised of a series of photographs taken of migrant workers travelling around Mexico in the beds of pickup trucks.
The images of hardworking labourers travelling from job to job during the harvest season can conjure connections to Niagara’s own large migrant worker population. In Ontario alone, tens of thousands of migrant workers come to farms, orchards and greenhouses each year as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
“The idea of ownership floats around in Cartagena’s work, looking at suburban Mexican homes, border issues, migrant issues, issues of poverty and wealth,” said Friend. “It’s quite poignant now, in particular with what is happening with migration issues worldwide, and it also makes us question how we treat our own migrant workers. How do we decide how housing is built? Do we even know what is happening here in Canada?”
The lecture is being held in the Robertson Theatre at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Tickets to the lecture are free, but registration is required by visiting the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website. The exhibition runs until Nov. 7.
Presidential Guide to Selfies
Exhibition opening: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 5 p.m., VISA Art Gallery and Student Exhibition Space, MIWSFPA
Exhibition runs: Oct. 4 to Nov. 7
Visualizing space and some ideas of homeownership 2006-2018
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 6 p.m., Robertson Theatre, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University firstname.lastname@example.org, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970
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