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TBA21 opens major exhibition in Lima exploring concepts of placelessness and heritage in contemporary practice
Brad Kahlhamer, Rapid City, MAMBO, 2016.

LIMA.- Drawing exclusively from its extensive collection of contemporary art, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary opened a major exhibition exploring the concept of the atopic—or “without place”—at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Lima, Peru, this August. Atopia. Migration, Heritage and Placelessness – Works from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection addresses questions of spatialized artistic practices and relationships through the work of 15 contemporary artists and artist collectives, including Allora & Calzadilla, Los Carpinteros, Walid Raad/The Atlas Group, and Do Ho Suh, among many others. Following presentations in Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador, the exhibition is presented in Lima from August 15, 2017, through November 26, 2017, in a newly adapted form.

“Atopia incorporates some of the most significant works from the TBA21 Collection to explore issues of localization versus globalization, the familiar and the not-so-very familiar,” said Francesca von Habsburg, chairwoman and founder of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. “At each stop in its journey throughout South America, the exhibition gets a new patina that refreshes it and deepens its meaning. We are thrilled to be able to present this thought-provoking exhibition in Lima.”

Atopia is organized against the backdrop of the astounding social, political, and cultural re-alignments of recent decades—the changing of borders, the displacement of people, and the reformulation and reassertion of national particularities and identities—all of which have had an increasing impact on artistic and curatorial practices. During this time, a simultaneous assertion and a reticence to name one’s place in time and space could be made out in the work of contemporary artists. Atopia proposes a notion of a shattered spatiality and traces a growing interest in place-specific narratives, dealing with the gaps and slippages between topos and atopos, space and non-space, the global and the specific practices of cultural in-betweens and hybridization.

Stated TBA21 Curator Daniela Zyman, “Atopia oscillates between several ideas and frames of reference. It hinges on the notions of utopia, the non-place, and the idea of dispersed local networks on a global level, while demonstrating a deep sensibility to local traditions and heritage.”

Highlights from the exhibition include:

• Rivane Neuenschwander’s celebrated installation “I wish your wish” (Eu desejo o seu desejo) plays with the idea of transportability and exchangeability of cultural symbols. The work is inspired by a popular tradition among pilgrims to the church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Bahia, who wrap ribbons to their wrists or to the church’s front gate with the belief that their wishes will be granted then the ribbons fall off. In Neuenschwander’s work, wishes are exchanged between museum visitors through the addition of new ribbons as the piece travels the world.

• Brad Kahlhamer’s contemporary revision of traditional American Indian totems and katsina dolls, which are believed to act as messengers between humans and spirts in Hopi tradition, to incorporate rock music and New York City’s Bowery Street punk rock culture. The works reflect a transmission and recodification of cultural iconographies and historical references.

• Jonathas de Andrade’s O Levante / The Uprising documents the first horse-drawn cart race in the Brazilian city of Recife, which the artist organized and masterminded. As a protest against the sanitization of his hometown and the new forms of urbanization that one encounters throughout the Americas today, the subversive cavalcade is memorializing the carts that have had a long historic function in the city’s transport system and are today considered forbidden ghosts.

• Do Ho Suh’s Staircase-V is a scale replica of the staircase leading to the artist’s first apartment in New York. Rendered in diaphanous red polyester, the staircase becomes a liminal memory space, between here and there.

• Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Thomas Nordanstad Golden Days (Remedios, Colombia, 2012) is a filmic work by the duo, commissioned by TBA21, which focuses on the area around Remedios, a town in the Antioquia department of Colombia, where gold mining has been the prevalent industry and the main source of income for centuries. In this work the spatial exploration activates a conceptual and physical form of stratification in an alchemistic term “as above, so below.” The film is, at the same time, also an ancestral search for a distant relative who has come to Colombia for mining.

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