The multidisciplinary exhibition Xican–a.o.x. Body focuses on the formative and hugely influential contributions to contemporary art made by Chicanx (Gender neutral and queer inclusive of Chicano/a) artists working in the United States from the 1970s to the present. This exhibition, which features more than 125 works of art by approximately 70 artists and art collectives, aims to add complexity to understandings of Chicanx art and culture by exploring the conceptual and experimental nature of visual practices that foreground the body as the site in which imagination and political enunciation are articulated.
The central theme of Xican–a.o.x. Body is the artists’ use of the “brown body” to assert acts of political resistance against mainstream Western European and American cultural codes that have tended to reduce the Chicanx narrative to one that is marginal and secondary, grounded in racist conceptions of a minority population that lacks contemporary art currency. Chicanx artists’ self-representation affirms the uniqueness and relevance of their projects and their integral place in contemporary art. When the body is made an active element of resistance against institutionalization, it is empowered beyond the limits of stereotypical identity definitions. This exhibition, like the art that comprises it, goes against the idea of the stereotype without refusing specificity. Included are artists whose practices counter the misrepresentation and invisibility of Chicanxs. The exhibition proposes to start from the idea of a politicized body and expand through different thematic confluences and artworks to the collective body.
The artists represented in Xican-a.o.x. Body celebrate the creativity of decolonized political personas and are unapologetic in their self-representation. They apply multidisciplinary perspectives to their work that erase any presumed hierarchy between popular art, vernacular and mass culture, and what has traditionally been thought of as high art, while they embed conceptual and intellectual aspects through their aesthetic and the materiality of their artwork. This approach can be seen in Asco’s First Supper After a Major Riot (1974), which combines performance, activism, fashion, and installation art. Other works in the exhibition, such as Yolanda López’s Love Goddess, from her Guadalupe series (1978), or her Tableaux Vivant (1978), deactivate prejudices and stereotypes through roleplay to create feminist, anti-colonial perspectives. López disrupts the essentialism of the Virgen de Guadalupe as a religious figure and a feminine reference not only of Chicana women but also of canonical ideals of beauty perpetuated by masterworks of European art history, such as Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Similarly, artists such as Rafa Esparza investigate elements of Chicanx culture. Taking the example of the Lowrider as a rebellious assisted readymade in works from the 1970s and 1980s by Ricardo Valverde or John Valadez, Esparza transmutes his own body into that of a Lowrider, transforming from object to subject and queering the hypermasculine elements of Lowrider car culture.
Artists in the exhibition will include Laura Aguilar, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Asco, Judith F. Baca, Nao Bustamante, Barbara Carrasco, Mel Casas, Isabel Castro, Yreina Cervantes, Liz Cohen, Cyclona, Sandra de la Loza, Rafa Esparza, Christina Fernandez, Diane Gamboa, Ken Gonzales-Day, Esther Hernández, Luis Jimenez, Yolanda López, Patrick Martinez, Star Montana, Delilah Montoya, Marcos Raya, Shizu Saldamando, Sylvia Salazar Simpson, John Valadez, Patssi Valdez, Ricardo Valverde, and Jose Villalobos, among many others.
In a historical moment in which current political discussions about Chicanx and Latinxs’ rights in the United States are clouded by pervasive racist rhetoric, we need more than ever to promote Latinx art in its rich multiplicity to dispel misconceptions about these cultures. As the title indicates, this exhibition defies closed definitions of Chicanx art, reflecting its dynamic and ever-expanding complexity and incorporating artists who have developed their work in dialogue with Chicanx culture.
The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum is located at 3581 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA, 92501, on the corner of Mission Inn Ave. and Orange St. Metered street and lot parking is available along Mission Inn Ave. Click here for more information and a map of parking areas located downtown. Information on the Mission Inn can be found here.
June 17, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024
3581 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA, 92501