NEW YORK, NY.- Laurel Gitlen
presents the first New York gallery exhibition by the young Mexican artist Edgardo Aragón. Born in 1985 in Oaxaca, Aragón has emerged as part of new generation of Mexican artists originating from outside Mexico's capital, whose aesthetic, political and social concerns differ drastically from the capital's more internationally recognized artists of the 1990s. Using photography and video, Aragón focuses his attention on the arid and open landscape of his country, poignantly negotiating the space between the land as the most faithful witness to history and the escalation of violence and subsequent media attention that plagues the region.
The landscapes in Aragón's work juxtapose those idealized by Western films and traditional Mexican painting with a real landscape transformed by misery, corruption, exploitation, and abandonment. In earlier works, land marred by narcotrafficking, violence, and death is turned into a psychological backdrop to a more personal narrative, connecting the artist's childhood to the inherited landscape of his father's and grandfather's Mexico. Often incorporating folksongs, oral histories and personal narratives, Aragón's critical approach is always underscored by a textured familiarity and sensitive attachment to the land.
In this new body of work, Treasure, Aragón presents intimate portraits of ten families from Mexico City and Oaxaca (including his own) that document the meager jewels they have managed to conserve across generations despite mounting financial pressures. The images reflect the failings of a broken society, where inheritance includes cheap gold and mutilated pieces of jewelry, but also debts accumulated from the historical system of tiendas de rayas, company stores that tie workers into a system of small debts (abanos chiquitos), and their contemporary counterparts whose usurious interest terms continue to create unsustainable financial burdens. In order to relieve these debts, families are often forced to pawn their last belongings, typically these small jewels and inherited keepsakes.
A new video work, La Encomienda, links the jewelry trade back to Oaxaca's mining history, underlining a people's deep connection to a landscape and its resources while addressing the exploitation of this land by foreign companies for economic gains. In this work, a choir of young men performs a baroque composition of mining protest slogans from different Latin American countries. Framed in the opening of an abandoned mine shaft, the young singers are surrounded by the trees that ring the entrance to the cave-like space, and the trickling water that has returned to the mine is audible above their song.
On Sunday, May 12, and Sunday, June 16, a lone singer will perform this composition outside of the Tiffany's flagship store on 5th Avenue. Performance times will be confirmed shortly.
Edgardo Aragón (b. Oaxaca, Mexico, 1985) received a B.A. from Mexico's National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at numerous institutions including the Museum Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC), Mexico City; MoMA PS1, New York; and the LAXART at Luckman Gallery, Los Angeles. Recent group exhibitions include Resisting the Present, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); Disponible: A Kind of Mexican Show, San Francisco Art Institute (2011); and El horizonte del topo, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2010); and forthcoming exhibitions at the Kadist Foundation, San Francsico; and the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, TX. Aragón was also included in the 3rd Moscow Biennial of Young Artists, the 12th Istanbul Biennial, and the 8th Mercosul Biennial. He currently lives and works in Oaxaca, Mexico.