MOCA Tucson opens an exhibition of three major artworks by Pia Camil

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MOCA Tucson opens an exhibition of three major artworks by Pia Camil
Installation view of Pia Camil: Bara, Bara, Bara (Dallas Contemporary, April 8 – August 20, 2017). Photograph courtesy the artist and Dallas Contemporary.

TUCSON, AZ.- Pia Camil’s solo exhibition at MOCA Tucson features new iterations of existing works and a site-specific commission. The three major artworks that make up this exhibition investigate relationships of power, intimacy, and collectivity during the pandemic, within the space of an art museum, and in the broader bi-national landscape.

Bara, Bara, Bara, a large-scale, site-specific textile installation first presented in 2017, hangs from the ceiling of MOCA’s Great Hall. The piece is composed of secondhand T-shirts produced in Latin America for retailers in the United States that returned to bargain markets in Mexico, either through charity or waste. The installation’s title comes from the word barato, meaning cheap, an exclamation used by street vendors selling their goods.

For MOCA Tucson, Camil has conceived of Autonomous Space Rug, a massive new work which covers the floor below Bara with a patchwork of overstock carpet. Blanketing concrete, the piece creates an inviting space to sit, gather, and gaze up at the colorful T-shirt tarps. Over the course of the exhibition, the artist and MOCA will invite the public to use the space for pandemic-conscious gathering, providing micro-grants to event proposals from local individuals or groups.

The third artwork in Camil’s exhibition at MOCA involves another invitation to participate. AIR OUT YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY is a flag sculpture that will be made by Tucsonans in the first few weeks of the exhibition’s life through an exchange: Participants are invited to bring in loved but outworn pieces of clothing or bedding and the story of their significance, and in return receive a $10 giftcard to Bookmans Entertainment Exchange (Arizona’s largest used bookstore) to continue the cycle of reuse. The resulting artwork is a collective laundry line made up of the jeans, sheets, socks, and shirts of participants, along with a looped audio track amplifying the stories attached to these intimate items.

The three works in Pia Camil’s exhibition at MOCA Tucson provoke questions about the forces that divide and unite us, playfully yet tenderly suturing unity from fragments. The artist uses everyday materials, excesses, and cast-offs to create opportunities for connection, demonstrating that interactions guided by openness, curiosity, and reciprocity can replace oppressive systems of power and re-define relationships through collective action.

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