Chalton Gallery in collaboration with Periferia Projects are pleased to present the first solo show in the UK of Mexican artist Adela Goldbard: Checkmate or The Politics of Illusion curated by Lassla Esquivel. The exhibition includes a site specific installation, a selection of Goldbard’s Parallegories video series and a sonic performance in collaboration with Japanese artist Masato Kakinoki (abirdwhale).
Checkmate or The Politics of Illusion is a precarious installation consisting on a simple stagelike structure made of wood and supported by metal barrels, which resembles both a medieval theatre stage and an execution platform that the audience could activate by entering from above and from below. Documents and a sound-piece by artist Masato Kakinoki helped trace connections amongst effigy-burning traditions in Great Britain and Latin America, pinpointing the defiant character of such rituals.
Sound piece: Masato Kakinoki (abirdwhale)
Construction: Kenji Takahashi and Liam Cahill
Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Traditional chant in Guy Fawkes Night
For the commissioned installation and performance, Goldbard expanded her research on effigy- burning traditions. During Guy Fawkes Night the cyclical destruction of the traitor in effigy preserves his punishment and re-‐inscribes it, every year, in the official history and collective memory as an act of patriotism. Allegorical in essence, effigy-‐burning traditions that exist in different parts of the world, collectively and cathartically destroy the traitors’ lookalikes made of paper and cardboard in order to purge social evil. In the Burning of Judas, a long-‐standing tradition of Catholic origin, effigies of public figures, built after Judas Iscariot -‐the par excellence traitor-‐ are detonated in a ritual to allegorically get rid of the evil that they embody. In México, Judas Iscariot recurrently mutates: he transforms into Donald Trump, into Salinas de Gortari, into Enrique Peña Nieto and other contemporary politicians and public figures that cynically celebrate theft, corruption and demagogy. Accused of treason, and in resemblance to the public hanging of conspirators and witches centuries ago, their effigies are suspended and then exploded. Irony and destruction become acts of resistance in face of the failed State; the figure of the traitor is reversed in order to contest official history and to create renewed and legitimate celebrations that respond to the desires of the people.
Both the installation and the performance are intended as an inverted carnivalesque celebration where patriotism is exploited and combined with religious-‐turned-‐secular rituals. This eclectic juxtaposition of history, tradition, and culture generates a baroque celebratory bacchanal with no apparent purpose except the spectacularization of itself. Past and present collide and effigies replace the real. In this specular universe of flat representations, everyone is suspected of treason. Guy Fawkes is replaced by a Juditas with devil horns. The executioners and the audience are all public figures that blend and gather on top and around a platform that resembles a chessboard but becomes a theatre stage. Let the play begin. Checkmate.
Paraallegories, a video series by artist Adela Goldbard, was inspired by her critical observations of Mexico’s press over the past five years, with particular focus on its coverage of the Mexican Drug War and the complicated nature of political corruption. Goldbard considers how the press is mediated, and what ideologies it promotes—especially during events in which violence, protest, dissidence, or repression make the news. She examines these flashpoints in Mexico’s recent history through reenactment, combining manual, handicraft work with high quality technical cinematography. The result is a conflation of fact and fiction that questions how reality is addressed, presented, and misconstrued. Goldbard borrows images from news events to construct full-‐scale models with reed, newspaper, and cardboard that are then destroyed with pyrotechnics in an intersection of allegory, black humor, and metaphor. The objects are built and razed in collaboration with pyrotechnicians and craftsmen from Tultepec, Mexico (just north of Mexico City) using materials and procedures from their handmade fireworks traditions, specifically referencing the Burning of Judas.
Sound piece collaboration
Japanese artist Masato Kakinoki (abirdwhale) developed a sound piece in collaboration with Adela Goldbard to be performed at Chalton Gallery. This work responds to the concepts of instability and the unexpected and is intended as an exploration of the physicality of sound. The audience will be prompted to discover the “aural secrets” of the installation and to become immersed in an expanded sensorial experience. The underground soundscape will subtly shake and shudder the foundations of the building, resembling a low intensity earthquake. A passage through the obscure and the unpredictable will precede the entrance to the inverted carnivalesque celebration proposed by the installation. This collaboration was possible with the support of Enterprise Projects.
Performance commissioned by Periferia Projects with the support of Enterprise Projects.
Goldbard is a multimedia artist with a research-‐based practice who believes in the potential of art to generate critical thinking and social transformation. Her work questions the politics of remembering and collective memory by suspecting official history, archaeological preservation, patriotism, state-‐sanctioned celebrations, memorials and monuments. She dissents by making visible events that have been forgotten or erased and by ritually and allegorically destroying social evil. Goldbard challenges traditional cinema by re-‐enacting history and by collectively building, staging and, importantly, destroying—always with subtle parody and dark humor. Her search and research of popular culture, traditions and artisanal techniques has derived in working and collaborating with groups and communities of craft makers, pyro technicians, brick makers, lowriders, and migrant construction workers, mainly in Mexico and in the US. Her work melds photography, video, sculpture, text, public actions and immersive installations. Goldbard is a member of the National System of Artistic Creators of Mexico since 2015. She holds an MFA as a Full Merit Fellow in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor’s
￼degree in Hispanic Language and Literature from the National University of Mexico. Her work has been exhibited in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Philippines, Russia, Argentina, Canada, USA, and widely in Mexico. She lives and works in Mexico City and Providence, RI, working as a Teaching Post-‐Graduate Fellow and Assistant Professor at Rhode Island School of Design.
Kakinoki (abirdwhale) is a Japanese musician, artist, film music composer and audiovisual improviser. He wrote and produced soundtracks and an inserted song for the feature film Fragile (directed by Shingo Ota), which has been screened internationally, including at the Tokyo International Film Festival. He won PROGRESSIVE FORM’s remix competition in 2015, and released his debut album 0000 from the label in 2017. His track ‘Signals’ and the musical piece produced for the film Candle for Minority have been aired on BBC Radio 3 by Nick Luscombe and Verity Sharp respectively. He completed a PhD in Music at Canterbury Christ Church University, where he was granted University Full-‐time PhD Scholarship. His audiovisual improvisation has been performed internationally including ArtReview, Cafe OTO (London), GENERATE!° (Tübingen, Germany), and Tallinn Music Week (Tallinn, Estonia). He lives and works in London and Tokyo.
Lassla Esquivel. Art historian, consultant, independent curator and researcher. She has an MA in History and Business of the Contemporary Art Market by the University of Warwick. She specialises in emerging markets, particularly in Latin America. Her curatorial projects have been showcased in Latin America, EMEA and Asia-‐Pacific regions and the UK. She runs Periferia Projects a curatorial platform creating connections from Latin America and other emerging markets to the UK and Europe.
Jade Barget. She runs Enterprise Projects, an independent art projects producer based in East London.