Kent Fine Art is pleased to present Pablo Helguera: Strange Oasis, January 31–March 14, 2015, with a reception for the artist on January 30, 6–8 pm.
Pablo Helguera (b. 1971, Mexico City) is an interdisciplinary artist with an interest in socially engaged art and performance. His work as an educator has often influenced his work as an artist, often incorporating language and literature to articulate and address local cultural and social issues. La Escuela Panamericana del Desasosiego / The School of Panamerican Unrest (2003–2011) is regarded as one of the most extensive public art projects on record as well as a pioneering work for the new generation of socially engaged art. Helguera collaborated with more than forty organizations and over a hundred artists, curators, and activists during this period.
Since then, Helguera has composed installations including Libreria Donceles (KFA 2013) in which the artist facilitated the establishment and subsequent itinerancy of a Spanish-language bookstore, thus conflating the aesthetic experience of Mexico City’s old bookstores with the politics of the Spanish language across the US-Mexico border. Since then, Libreria Donceles has been re-established for the Kadist Art Foundation (San Francisco), for Arizona State University (Tempe) and soon for Red Hook, Brooklyn. Locally, Helguera was also featured at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival with The Parable Conference, “Crossing Brooklyn” at the Brooklyn Museum with 1899 (Susannah Mushatt Jones), and at the Guggenheim Museum’s recent exhibition “Under the Same Sun” with the performance On the Future of Art.
In Strange Oasis, Kent Fine Art becomes the stage and platform for new iterations and re-stagings of the artist’s recent interventions, which took place throughout the Americas and Europe. Some of the projects presented include Société Civile pour l’Enterrement de Pensées Mortes for Rectangle, Brussels, 2013, Nuevo Romancero Nuevomejicano for Site Santa Fe’s thematic exhibition “Unsettled Landscapes,” and Vita Vel Regula (Rules of Life) for the Renata Bianconi Gallery in Milan.
The exhibition’s title comes from the essay on the phenomenology of play titled “Oasis of Happiness” by German philosopher Eugen Fink. In his essay, Fink refers to play as a “strange oasis, an enchanted rest-spot in [man’s] agitated journey.” Helguera’s interventions, which use history, geography, and language, create parenthetical experiences, projections into other places, times, and physical spaces. According to the artist, the interactive projects in this exhibition come from the interest in creating “parenthetical experiences” that extract the viewer from daily routine by engaging them in leisurely activities that can acquire very personal interpretations.
The various projects presented here address geography, location, and time, focusing on the significance of human relationships and the limits of communication and language.
In Helguera’s games and rituals the past is never buried, but instead is ever-present, establishing a “temporal present” necessary for engagement. In Société Civile pour l’Enterrement de Pensées Mortes, a room houses the ashes of dead and obsolete thoughts, as once guarded over by a Belgian sect of freethinkers during the turn of the century. In Nuevo Romancero Nuevomejicano, a velvety space mimics the lobby and gambling table of an illegal casino in pre-war New Mexico, circa 1836. By playing a variety of old gambling card games, visitors are told of their future through the divinatory legends based on the history of the US-Mexico War.
A special feature of this exhibition will be interactive Saturday afternoons (12–5 pm) with the recreation of Nuevo Romancero Nuevomejicano and Société Civile pour l”Enterrement de Pensées Mortes. For further information, please contact Katrina Neumann (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the gallery website at www.kentfineart.net. Exhibition hours are Tuesdays thru Saturdays from 10 to 6.