Artist: Pia Camil
Pia Camil: A Pot for a Latch
January 13, 2016 – April 17, 2016
New York, NY, USA
The New Museum hosts the first solo museum presentation in New York of the work of artist Pia Camil.
In her paintings, sculptures, performances, and installations, Camil draws inspiration from the urban landscape of her native Mexico City and engages with the history of modernism. Her projects transform the remnants of dysfunctional commercial culture, revealing the inherent problems as well as the latent aesthetic potential within inner-city ruin. Often using laborious fabrication processes in collaboration with local artisans, Camil deaccelerates the frenetic pace of mass commodification through the handcrafted production and intimate quality of her works. In recent projects, she has expanded the scope of her practice to create theatrical environments that invite the viewer to navigate the exhibition space and experience shifting viewpoints and juxtapositions.
For “A Pot for a Latch,” Camil presents a participatory sculptural installation produced specifically for the Lobby Gallery. Inspired by the modular display systems typically used by vendors, Camil has constructed a succession of gridwall panels of her own design, complete with built-in hooks, shelves, and other fixtures for displaying items. Composed of grids, lines, and geometric shapes, the structures form a volumetric drawing within the space of the gallery, referencing cheap commercial constructions as well as the serial patterning of paintings and sculptures made by Minimalist artists such as Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin.
The title of the exhibition refers to the potlatch, a ceremonial gift-giving festival practiced by the Native-American peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast, for whom it continues to be a system of wealth redistribution. Camil invites the public to participate in the ongoing creation of her piece on designated days, during which visitors are encouraged to exchange their own unique items for others in the installation. The composition on the gridwall panels is thereby in flux and is repeatedly altered throughout the course of the exhibition. With “A Pot for a Latch,” Camil transforms the Lobby Gallery into a shop of sorts, in which the monetary value of an object is supplanted by its personal history and significance.
New Museum visitors are invited to exchange items for those in the installation during a series of six public events. On subsequent days, participants’ items will be exchanged for those items that are installed in the Lobby Gallery on that particular day.
Sunday April 3, 2–4 PM
Artist’s invitation: “A Pot for a Latch” is an invitation to exchange.
The object you bring is a talisman of sorts, and it should be thought of in the same way that the ancient Romans conceived of in their term “res,” which denotes a gift that has both a personal value and a history. Bring objects of power, of aesthetic interest, and of poignancy. The monetary value of these items is insignificant; their value lies instead in their richness of meaning and in the new life that they acquire on the grid within the Lobby Gallery.
Potential exchange items may include: clothes, curtains, blankets, artworks, photographs, paintings, frames, nondescript items of undetermined function, objects that resemble parts of the human body such as wigs or mannequins, costume jewelry and accessories, mirrors and reflective items, potted plants, colorful items and/or those with interesting shapes and forms, transparent materials such as shower curtains, lingerie, or X-rays, books, and trinkets.
Prohibited exchange items include but are not limited to: electronics, heavy items (over twenty pounds), small-scale objects (less than six inches in diameter), loose-leaf paper, tote bags, mass-produced garments, food or other perishables, weapons, and chemicals or other hazardous materials.
The exhibition is curated by Margot Norton, Associate Curator.
Cover Image: “Pia Camil: A Pot for a Latch,” 2016. Exhibition view: New Museum. Photo: Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio
Artists: Pablo Accinelli, Edgardo Aragón, Juan Araujo, Felipe Arturo, Nicolás Bacal, Milena Bonilla, Paloma Bosquê, Pia Camil, Bevenuto Chavajay, Marcelo Cidade, Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker, Nicolás Consuegra, Minerva Cuevas, Elena Damiani, Mariana Castillo Deball, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Federico Herrero, Voluspa Jarpa, Runo Lagomarsino, Adriana Lara, Engel Leonardo, Valentina Liernur, Mateo López, Renata Lucas, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Nicolás Paris, Amalia Pica, Pablo Rasgado, Pedro Reyes, Adrián Villar Rojas, Gabriel Sierra, Clarissa Tossin, Carla Zaccagnini.
United States of Latin America
Curated by Jens Hoffmann and Pablo León de la Barra
September 18, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Museum of Contemporary Art
Detroit, MI, USA
The exhibition United States of Latin America brings together more than thirty emerging artists from Latin America, many of whom will be exhibiting in the United States for the first time.
The show is based on an ongoing conversation between two curators, Jens Hoffmann and Pablo León de la Barra, who for a number of years have exchanged research and information about artists, artworks, and the overall development of the art world from Mexico to Argentina and the many countries in between. The exhibition is an extension of this dialogue into the galleries of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit via artworks suggested in dialogue format.
United States of Latin America features a wide range of works in a variety of mediums, for instance a series of photographs about housing in Havana, a film about the effects of gang violence in Mexico, sculptures reflecting on the involvement of the CIA in Latin American dictatorships, drawings of historical monuments from the future, a floor map about the selling of Brazilian rubber to the United States, boulders from a Colombian river that have been turned into flip-flops, and paintings about the interplay of modernist houses, tropical vegetation, and utopian architecture. The individual artworks touch upon themes such as geography, history, urbanism, memory, colonialism, architecture, war, modernism, social inequality, regionalism, and power. Given how Latin America’s realities oscillate between the colonial and the contemporary, between severe economic hardships and enormous financial expansions, between flourishing democracies and suppressive dictatorships, and between great progress and immense regression, the exhibition presents an intentionally fragmented survey, a deliberately disjointed overview, of the region and the art being made there. It allows the viewer a glimpse into a reality that may seem geographically near, but is in many ways far away and unfamiliar.
The curators invited a number of writers and curators from throughout Latin America to contribute to a glossary of terms that articulate the region’s historical landscape and conceptual syntax. This glossary will be published in the exhibition catalogue along with a conversation between the curators, texts on all of the artists, images of the exhibited artworks, and a roundtable discussion featuring a number of curators based in Latin America.
Developed in collaboration with Kadist Art Foundation, United States of Latin America is curated by Jens Hoffmann, MOCAD senior curator at large, and Pablo León de la Barra, guest curator. A range of public programs and educational activities will run concurrently with the exhibition, including a public conversation with the curators, lectures by some of the participating artists, film screenings, and performances.
Artist: Pia Camil
Frieze Projects 2015
New York, USA
Pia Camil has conceived a project that will function as a portable environment. Inspired by Hélio Oiticica’s Parangolé – a series of capes, flags and banners made to be worn as ‘habitable paintings’ – Camil’s project will consist of a series of wearable fabrics distributed freely to the fair’s visitors.
Camil’s pieces of fabric are designed to allow for various versatile uses including clothing – such as robes or ponchos – and more utilitarian functions – such as picnic blankets, table cloths and sheets. Disseminated within the context of the fair, Camil’s fabric pieces will require the direct participation of the viewers, quietly emphasizing one of the main characteristics of the experience of art fairs, where the act of looking at art is often as important as the act of looking at others and distinguishing oneself from them.
Artist: Pia Camil
The Little Dog Laughed
July 12 – August 23, 2014
Blum & Poe
Los Angeles, CA, USA
Camil presents three interrelated bodies of work — a large-scale hanging curtain, paintings, and ceramic vases — which are inspired and based on abandoned billboards found around Mexico. Camil appropriates elements, such as strips of color or fragments of a letter or number, and transforms public advertisements into intimate household items, emphasizing the dysfunctionality of a mass consumer lifestyle with a playful but critical gesture.
The title for the exhibition derives from John Fante’s novel Ask the Dust, where Arturo Bandini, a struggling writer based in Los Angeles during the Depression, publishes an insignificant short story titled The Little Dog Laughed. The story’s publication offers Bandini a glimpse of success. Interested in the main character’s false sense of self, Camil delves into the relationship between the personal and public in a modern dystopia.
A large hanging curtain, which typically references domestic and interior space, partially covers the entrance to the gallery and alludes to the idea of a theater backdrop or spectacle (the word for billboard in Spanish is espectacular). In the middle of the room, a large billboard-like structure functions as both a transparent screen and a shelving unit. Upon closer inspection, handmade ceramic vases become visible through the sheer canvas.
The paintings, like the curtain, are created using hand-dyed and stitched canvas, which has often been related to the so-called feminine. Though shapes and colors are repeated, each piece is uniquely constructed in an artisanal manner in order to decelerate the process of massive cultural production. In The Little Dog Laughed, Camil engages with an abstract image in different ways, uncovering the symbols and messages encoded in the cultural landscape.
Pia Camil (b. 1980) lives and works in Mexico City. She has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art. In November 2014, she will complete a commission for the plaza of the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. She has exhibited internationally, including at ARTIUM, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; the Biennial of the Americas, Denver, CO; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; and Universidad de Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico.
Through my work I have shown a proclivity to failure or the decaying associated to the Mexican urban landscape, aspects of modernist culture and traces of art history. My practice has explored the urban ruin – including paintings and photographs of halted projects along Mexico’s highways (Highway Follies); abandoned billboards that become theatre-like backdrops therefore theatricalizing failed capitalist strategies (Espectaculares), or the problems and contradictions that arise when engaging with iconic art works (No A trío A or Cuadrado Negro).
Traducido del inglés
A través de mi obra he mostrado una proclividad al fracaso o a la decadencia asociada al paisaje urbano de México, aspectos de la cultura modernista y las huellas de la historia del arte. Mi práctica ha explorado la ruina urbana, incluyendo pinturas y fotografías de proyectos inconclusos a lo largo de las carreteras de México (Highway Follies), espectaculares abandonados que se convierten en telones de fondo teatrales, por tanto teatralizando estrategias capitalistas fracasadas (Espectaculares) o los problemas y contradicciones que surgen al abordar obras de arte icónicas (No A trío A or Cuadrado Negro).
Selected Biographical Information
Education / Training
- 2006-2008: Master of Fine Arts, The Slade School of Fine Art, London, United Kingdom.
- 1999-2003: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I., USA.
- 2014: “Entrecortinas: abre, jala, corre“, Galería OMR, Mexico City, Mexico.
- 2013: “Espectacular Telón“, Sultana Gallery, Paris, France.
- 2013: “Cuadrado Negro, part of the program Mutatis Mutandis in Artium“, Basque museum-center of contemporary art, Vitoria, Spain.
- 2010: “Lost In You (A Performance That Never Happened)”, Open studio performance, Mexico City, Mexico.
- 2009: “El Resplandor”, El 52 Gallery (project space and residence program ran by OMR Gallery), Mexico City, Mexico.
- 2013: “Draft Urbanism”, Biennial of the Americas, Denver, Colorado, USA.
- 2013: “No A Trio A”, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain.
- 2013: “Horizontal”, La Central Gallery, Bogota, Colombia.
- 2012: “Popo de Paris“, Sultana Gallery, Paris, France.
- 2011: “El Grito“, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), Leon, Spain.
- 2011: “Mañana”, Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala, Guatemala.
- 2010: “Sin techo está pelón, colección Jumex”, Universidad de Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico.
- 2010: “El Resplandor”, Museo Experimental el Eco, Mexico City, Mexico.
- 2009: “There are false problems…”, Proyectos Monclova, Monterrey, Mexico.
- 2009: “Residencia de El Resplandor “, OMR Projects, Mexico City, Mexico.
- 2009: “[sic]”, OMR Gallery, Mexico city, Mexico.
- 2009: “This is not an invitation, it’s a presentation”, OMR projects, Mexico City, Mexico.
- 2008: “Lanzarote”, Keith Talent Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
- 2008: “Croyances Quotidiennes”, Palais Université Robert Schuman, Strasbourg, France.
- 2007: “Eventos Sociales”, Galería de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City, Mexico.
- La Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico.
- Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York City, USA.
- Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco, USA.