Culture and Violence, 2021
Culture and Violence, 2021
Based on the artist’s past experiences, this is a self-portrait of the artist as a zombie with the backdrop of Hollywood, the “city of dreams”. However, Hollywood can make someone lose their cultural identity and, thus, people try to fit in a mold that is already present. Hollywood can be a violent environment because people fight for their recognition and status; but, ultimately, all this may result in the ending of someone’s dreams.
This is a self-portrait work, showing the artist himself reaching for a cross that is positioned in the middle of the canvas. Tentacles are surrounding him which represent different temptations and addictions used as a form of escape. The cross represents an attempt to end the toxic behaviors.
The painting represents the different cultural landscapes existing in America, especially in Los Angeles where food trucks are a trend within the city. The amount of diversity existing in America will always be present, continuing to grow as time progresses. In America, people are fortunate to explore a wide range of cultures ranging from food, music, religion, language, politics, socio-economics, ethnics, arts as well as morals. Yet, because of the separate Cultures within Los Angeles, violence is prevalent over territorial control, resources, and preserving ethnic identity.
In our view, talking about perennial topicality means talking about our perception of time, history, and human interactions. As we considered this project a collective debate, we’d like to hear more about your ideas as well. What is your perception of perennial topicality? And which element of this idea do you think that the artwork that you presented wants to portray?
My artwork describes both historical and current events continuing to affect a population of underprivileged people who constantly face violence daily. Overall, violence affects everyone differently regardless of experiencing violence firsthand or hearing about a violent incident from friends, family, or social media. Culture, like violence, will always remain within human existence, never to end if our species continues to live. Los Angeles is a city with a wide range of cultures that I have been fortunate to experience. Food, ethics, religion, and violence are all part of cultural identity.
We are all the sum of our experiences, which shape our personality and perception. How did your personal history affect the creation of your artworks and in what way did you bring it into your project?
Personal experiences of violence and culture have provided me the content to communicate with the public about surviving in an unstable environment. Being raised in a gang-infested neighborhood inhibited my ability to grow and thrive in society with ease. Because of my culture as Chicano, a Mexican American identity, gangs have become part of cultural identity and upbringing. The purpose of violence in the Chicano community has historically been to dominate or control limited territories available to minorities. Chicanos must deliberately navigate dangerous environments with a lack of resources to survive.
Due to the centrality of technology as well as the redefinition of our personal space, in these pandemic times the intimacy and the lack of it are now not only lived but conceived differently. How would you describe your perception of intimacy, relationships, and connection today?
Today, relationships have moved into more digital platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter which contributes to disconnection from being in tune with reality as it was once known. For example, social status has a different meaning as well as the importance of networking to succeed online has grown much more over the last few years. Long are gone the days of traditional ways of encountering a new person on the streets. Virtually meeting people has become more common and desirable as it takes away the pressure of real-time interaction.
What do you expect from the audience’s experience after viewing your work in this digital environment? How do you think that our endless consumption of digital contents is affecting the production and the fruition of artworks? Do you think the virtual exhibition experience will continue to be a possible tool for presenting your research?
Virtual experience cannot be compared to live experience because the environment is important to create the atmosphere for an art show. Although we are currently in a situation that does not allow us to be physically in the same space, I hope the audiences are equally intrigued with a virtual setting and gain the same experience as if we were in person. Fortunately, art can be shared in masses through digital platforms by artists to share their works in a virtual setting. To some extent, a virtual exhibition can be extremely useful when facing a crisis but should never replace a live exhibition.