From Animal Spirits to a Conquistador’s Stolen Foot, See the First Images of Site Santa Fe’s 2018 ‘Casa Tomada’ Biennial
Other highlights include Andrea Fraser's project on museum boards and an egg-shaped mobile museum from Guatemala.
“Sprawling” is an adjective that features often in descriptions of the various international art biennials. That doesn’t apply to Site Santa Fe’s SITElines biennial this year. Even in the New Mexico contemporary art institution’s recently expanded headquarters, the show feels pretty economical.
The 2018 edition, dubbed “Casa Tomada,” features 21 artists or collectives, selected by three curators: Jose Luis Blondet, of LACMA; Candice Hopkins, an independent curator who recently worked on documenta; and Ruba Katrib, of MoMA PS1.
SITElines draws the grandeur needed to power a biennial not from sheer size, but from a pronounced sense of its own mission: It has set out to be a “Biennial of the Americas,” self-consciously rewiring the art conversation to channel North-South influences. This perspective has given the last few editions of Site’s biennial a texture that can shift with its particular curators, while feeling distinct and characteristic—an achievement in itself.
As for “Casa Tomada,” at least two juicy metaphors hover over the 2018 curatorial selections. The title is taken from a magical realist story by Julio Cortázar, about upper-class siblings who slowly lose control of the rooms of their home to unnamed and unexplained occupiers. Correspondingly, works about place and power make up a large part of the show.
A more local dispute inspires another key curatorial flourish: In 1997, a still-anonymous vandal stole the foot of a monument to Juan de Oñate (1550-1626), sometimes known as the “Last Conquistador,” to make a political statement. In what amounts to a curator-authored artwork that centers the opening galleries, Blondet/Hopkins/Katrib have had a cast of the lost foot fabricated, presenting it in dialogue with the show’s many other artworks reflecting on memory, monuments, and more.
There’s a lot to chew on here—and while I am doing that, here are some photos that can give an idea what “Casa Tomada” looks and feels like.
For an added bonus, here are some images of the original Oñate Monument, which remains hotly debated, 45 minutes outside of Santa Fe:
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