Art in the Twenty-First Century: "Chicago", "Mexico City"

Art in the Twenty-First Century: "Chicago", "Mexico City"

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 9:00pm - 11:00pm

ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY provides unparalleled access to the most innovative artists of our time, revealing how artists engage the culture around them and how art allows viewers to see the world in new ways.

For the first time in the show’s history, the episodes are not organized around an artistic theme. Instead the 16-featured artists are grouped by their unique and revealing relationships to the places where they live: Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Vancouver. Tune in Friday, September 16, 2016 at 9pm and 10pm on WXXI-TV to see Chicago and Mexico City respectively. 

Season 8 reveals how artists today simultaneously draw inspiration from and influence their immediate surroundings, while engaging far-flung communities from all over the world— Amsterdam, Aspen, Basel, Bloomfield Hills, Bregenz, Brussels, Chiapas, Cuernavaca, Denver, Detroit, Istanbul, La Porte, Lisbon, London, Milan, New York City, Okanagan, Paris, Pasadena, Philadelphia, Puebla, San Francisco, Sinaloa, and Toronto. Through their work, artists participate in global conversations about the pressing issues of our time: from terrorism to environmental crises to the struggle for civil rights.

“Chicago”

Chicago is a city rooted in industry and towering architecture, and artists in Chicago are disrupting urban experience through experimentation. Nick Cave (b.1959, Fulton, MO, USA) creates “Soundsuits”—surreally majestic objects blending fashion and sculpture—that originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the Rodney King beatings and have evolved into vehicles for empowerment. Theaster Gates (b.1973, Chicago, IL, USA) first encountered creativity in the music of Black churches on his journey to becoming an urban planner, potter, and artist. Gates creates sculptures out of clay, tar, and renovated buildings, transforming the raw material of the South Side into radically reimagined vessels of opportunity for the community. Barbara Kasten (b.1936, Chicago, IL, USA) makes photographs and video projections in her studio that evoke an experience of movement through modernist architecture. Chris Ware (b.1967, Omaha, NE, USA), known for his New Yorker magazine covers, is hailed as a master of the comic art form. Ware’s complex graphic novels, which tell stories about people in suburban midwestern neighborhoods, poignantly reflect on the role of memory in constructing identity.

“Mexico City”

Mexico City artists exit their homes and studios to use the growing megalopolis as their canvas. The artists present everyday materials as artworks, mine recognizable images for their poetic potential, and take their art to the streets. Damián Ortega (b.1967, Mexico City, Mexico) uses objects from his everyday life—Volkswagen Beetle cars, Day of the Dead posters, locally sourced corn tortillas—to make spectacular sculptures, which suggest stories of both mythic import and cosmological scale. Pedro Reyes (b.1972, Mexico City, Mexico) designs ongoing projects that propose playful solutions to urgent social problems. From turning guns into musical instruments, to hosting a People’s United Nations to address pressing concerns, to offering ecologically friendly grasshopper burgers from a food cart, Reyes transforms existing problems into ideas for a better world. Minerva Cuevas (b.1975, Mexico City, Mexico) is a conceptual and socially-engaged artist who creates sculptural installations and paintings in response to politically charged events such as the tension between world starvation and capitalistic excess. Cuevas documents community protests in a cartography of resistance while also creating minisabotages—altering grocery store bar codes and manufacturing student identity cards—as part of her Better Life Corporation. Natalia Almada (b.1974, Mexico City, Mexico), the greatgranddaughter of Mexico’s controversial 40th president, Plutarco Elías Calles, makes intimate films that delve into the tragedies of her Mexican-American family’s personal history as well as the Sinaloa region’s violent present.

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