ISCP Talk
September 29, 2022, 6:30–7:30pm

Artists at Work: Manuel Aja Espil with Alejandro de la Guerra hosted by Culture Pass

Desplácese hacia abajo para el texto en español.

For this Artists at Work, Manuel Aja Espil, ISCP’s current resident from Argentina, will be in conversation with Alejandro de la Guerra, an artist and organizer from Nicaragua, at the Bushwick Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. At the center of their dialog will be discussion of Espil’s work in the context of Latin American art aesthetics. Both artists use imagery from art history and popular culture to tell stories about societal inequalities and political struggles. Playing with collective memory and coded imagery, they express a mix of humor and excitement with tragedy and dissent. 

This is a bilingual program, and will take place in both English and Spanish.

Manuel Aja Espil was born in 1987 in Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied filmmaking at Facultad Universidad del Cine and then painting, through courses, artists’ workshops, and on his own. He was at the 2016 edition of the Artist’s Program of Torcuato Di Tella University and was a resident at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in 2019. Manuel has exhibited in museums including the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Terapia, 2020) and the Proa Foundation (Arte en Juego, 2022), Buenos Aires. His first solo exhibition was Wanda vs Azymetikah in 2012 at a small gallery venue in Buenos Aires. His most recent solo exhibitions were Anton Regularis (2017), Joseph Andreas (2018) and Los Viajes (2020), in Buenos Aires. Has taught at the Torcuato Di Tella University and his studio. Currently, he is an independent artist based in Buenos Aires.

Alejandro de la Guerra, born in Managua, Nicaragua (1986), is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from the Nicaraguan School of Fine Arts and was part of the first generation of the art school EspIRA-LA ESPORA. He is also a co-founding member of Malagana-Mácula, and has participated in three Central American biennials, residencies at the Anni & Josef Albers Foundation; the Artist Protection Fund; URRA in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Câmera Sete Casa da Fotografia de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; and RAPACES in Central America. His work has been exhibited internationally, including presentations at Museum of Zapopan and Chopo Museum, México City; Infinito Gallery, Buenos Aires Argentina; Vermelho Gallery, Brazil; T20 in Spain, Fuso in Portugal, Regina Rex, P.A.D. and the PINTA fair in New York, the Contemporary Art Gallery of UCONN in Storrs CT, Continental drift Arab, Romania, Real Academia de España in Roma, Italy, Sies+ Hoke Contemporary art gallery in Germany, Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo in Costa Rica, Codice gallery and Museu Ortiz Guardian in Nicaragua.

This program is supported, in part, by the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation; Hartfield Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; New York City Council District 33; New York City Council District 34; New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature; The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; and William Talbott Hillman Foundation.


Para este Artistas en Trabajo, Manuel Aja Espil, residente de ISCP de Argentina, conversará con Alejandro de la Guerra, artista y organizador de Nicaragua. En el centro de su diálogo estará la pregunta: ¿existe una estética del arte latinoamericano? Ambos utilizan imágenes de la historia del arte y la cultura popular para contar historias sobre las desigualdades sociales y las luchas políticas. Jugando con la memoria colectiva y las imágenes codificadas, expresan una mezcla de humor y emoción con tragedia y disidencia.

Manuel Aja Espil nació en 1987 en la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina; hijo de dos arquitectos. Comenzó a dibujar desde una edad temprana y en la escuela secundaria desarrolló un profundo interés por la historia del arte y la pintura. Estudió brevemente Dirección de Cine en la Facultad Universidad del Cine y luego comenzó a aprender pintura por su cuenta y a través de cursos y talleres de artistas. Estuvo en la edición 2016 del Programa de Artistas de la Universidad Torcuato Di Tella y fue residente en la residencia de arte Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture en 2019. Expone su obra desde 2011 y ha expuesto su trabajo en museos como el Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Terapia, 2020) y Fundación Proa (Arte en Juego, 2022), en Buenos Aires. Su primera exposición individual fue Wanda vs Azymetikah en 2012 en una pequeña galería de Buenos Aires. Sus exposiciones individuales más recientes fueron Anton Regularis (2017), Joseph Andreas (2018) y Los Viajes (2020), en Buenos Aires. Ha dictado cursos sobre materiales para artistas en la Universidad Torcuato Di Tella y en su taller. Actualmente, artista independiente radicado en Buenos Aires.

Alejandro de la Guerra nació en Managua, Nicaragua, (1986) es un artista multidisciplinario, performer, profesor y poeta, con base en Brooklyn, Nueva York. Se graduó en la Escuela de Bellas Artes de Nicaragua y formó parte de la primera generación de la escuela de arte EspIRA-LA ESPORA. También es miembro cofundador de Malagana-Mácula, una galería autónoma temporal de arte nicaragüense y centroamericano. Alejandro ha participado en tres bienales centroamericanas, también ha participado en importantes residencias como Anni & Josef Albers Foundation, Artist Protection Fund co-patrocinado por SFA & El Instituto de la Universidad de Connecticut, así como URRA Buenos Aires, Argentina, Câmera Sete Casa da Fotografia de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte Brasil, y RAPACES de Centroamérica. Algunas de sus obras han sido expuestas en el Museo de Zapopan y, el Museo del Chopo, México DF, Galería Infinito, Buenos Aires Argentina, Galería Vermelho Brasil, T20 España, Fuso Portugal, Regina Rex, P.A.D. & PINTA fair, Nueva York, Contemporary Art Gallery of UCONN Storrs CT, Continental drift Arab, Rumanía,, Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo de Costa Rica, Códice galería y Museu Ortiz Guardián de Nicaragua, Real Academia de España en Roma, Italia, Sies+ Hoke Contemporary art gallery Alemania.  

Este programa está apoyado, en parte, por Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation; Hartfield Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; New York City Council District 33; New York City Council District 34; New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature; The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; y William Talbott Hillman Foundation.

Imagen: Manuel Aja Espil, Azymetrikah y El Nuevo Orden Mundial, 2022, óleo sobre lino, 75.2 × 65.3  (191 cm x 166 cm)

6:30–7:30pm

Participating Residents

Exhibition
Through February 17

Water Works

Water Works is a group exhibition curated by Danielle Wu that brings together seven artists who turn to the washroom as an aesthetic resource: Hana Al-Saadi, Laurie Kang, Ajay Kurian, Fatima Moallim, Mia Raadik, Pauline Shaw, and HaeAhn Woo Kwon. Whether inside the sauna, the hammam, the beauty salon, or the shower, the act of washing oneself has served as grounds to destabilize bodily integrity.

As a phrase that references both civic irrigation systems and a crying fit, Water Works draws a line between one’s own flesh and the broader, social body. The “cultivation of oneself,” as Michel Foucault observed, despite its occurrence in private, is also a deeply social practice that reflects revolving attitudes towards cleanliness, pleasure, health, and morality through-out a range of cultures.

Mia Raadik’s installation Self-care (2022), comprised of pastel shaving creams bearing similar consistency to cake frosting, lays bare the alluring fantasies that drive the so-called feminist “self care” industry. Also conflating flesh with food is Laurie Kang’s Bodied, burgeon (2020); using porous materials such as mesh bags and lotus roots inside a steamer filled with a myste-rious viscous solvent, the artist asks what possibilities—naughty or otherwise—are allowed to materialize under the comforting cloak of vapor?

The exhibition also looks at washing as more literally embedded within artistic processes, such as Pauline Shaw’s felted work formed from denatured wool that has been soaked in water and reconstituted anew into cell-like arrangements.

Meanwhile, Ajay Kurian and Hana Al-Saadi directly borrow elements from the bath to consider how racial and gendered Otherness supplies the sensual appeal or repulsion in one of the most intimate daily rituals. Kurian’s Bather (2018) hides a glowing grin behind the veil of a dark shower curtain; its ominous aura emanating from its lack of belonging to any bodily form. Al-Saadi’s new work Sneaky and Pure (2022) is comprised of silicone casts of handheld bidet sprayers that are ubiqui-tous to her native Qatar and neighboring regions but are foreign entities in the United States, echoing her personal experience as a visitor traveling abroad.

A handout with an introduction by curator Danielle Wu and a guest essay by UCLA professor Summer Kim Lee will be available in conjunction with Water Works. Further public events and details will be forthcoming on ISCP’s website and news-flashes.

Danielle Wu is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her reviews have been published in Art in America, Artforum, and The Offing. Previous curatorial projects include Ghost in the Ghost at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, New York, with scholar Anne Anlin Cheng. She is currently working on a group exhibition to be presented at Pearl River Mart, New York, in 2023.

About the artists:

Hana Al-Saadi is a Qatar-based artist whose work explores aspects of culture, society, and social media to generate discus-sions about what remains anonymous and privacy, and what is public. She works with archives, sound, and household items to create and assemble installations. She has exhibited work at Cosmoscow, Moscow; The WaterFire Arts Center, Providence; and Fire Station – Qatar Museums, among others. Al-Saadi was an artist-in-residence at ISCP in 2022.

Laurie Kang is a Canada and US-based artist who uses sculpture, photography and site-responsive installation to explore the body as an ongoing process. She has exhibited work at COOPER COLE, Toronto; Gallery TPW, Toronto; and Galeria Raster, Warsaw, among others.

Ajay Kurian is a United States-based multimedia artist whose work deals with mythologies of American life. Kurian’s practice engages with race, nature and the intersection of the personal and the social. Unbound by any material fidelity, his practice uses all human senses to generate an understanding of sculpture unbound to any single material, universal or ideal body. He has exhibited work at MoMA PS1, New York; Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai; SpazioA, Pistoia, Italy; and Galerie Max Hetzler, Paris & Berlin, among others.

Fatima Moallim is a Sweden-based self-taught artist who works with performance, drawing and installation. In Moallim’s installations, drawings expand into the room, blending boundaries between the figurative and the abstract, the self and the other, memory and oblivion. She has exhibited work at Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Göteborg; and KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin, among others. She is currently an artist-in-residence at ISCP.

Mia Raadik is an Estonia-based conceptual feminist artist whose work challenges social norms and highlights their underlying causes. She addresses socially stigmatized topics like dysfunctional menstrual cycles, reproduction, abortion, menopause, sexual and mental abuse, trauma recovery, and mental health. She has exhibited work at The Naked Island Project Space, Tallinn; Tallinn Art Hall; Kogo Gallery, Tartu, all Estonia, among others. Raadik was an artist-in-residence at ISCP in 2021.

Pauline Shaw is a United States -based artist whose work questions how personal history and cultural knowledge is acquired, preserved and rendered. Her practice draws upon personal experience and perception processed through material transformations–felted wool, blown glass, ceramics. She has exhibited work at Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore; The Shed, New York; and Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, among others. Shaw was an artist-in-residence at ISCP in 2020.

HaeAhn Woo Kwon is a Canada-based artist whose installations and assemblages bring together disparate materials and means of production, including hand-built, manufactured, found, and organic objects and images. Her work often reflects on the availability of excess goods and the necessity of inventiveness in our current moment. She has exhibited work at Franz Kaka, Toronto; Jack Barrett Galler y, New York; and Clint Roenisch, Toronto, among others.

This exhibition is supported, in part, by Hartfield Foundation; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature; and William Talbott Hillman Foundation.

By visiting ISCP, you agree to abide by the following health and safety policies. Please make sure to plan ahead for your visit.

  • Four visitors are allowed in the galleries at a time, and appointments are required. Please write to info@iscp-nyc.org to schedule an appointment.
  • All visitors are required to maintain social distancing, keeping six feet from anyone not in their party.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for visitors.
  • If you have fever, chills, cough, muscle pains, headache, loss of taste or smell, or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to your visit, please contact us to reschedule.
  • An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious conditions exists in any public space where people are present. Those visiting the International Studio & Curatorial Program voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, other infectious conditions, and other hazards that may be present in a public space.
Open Hours: By appointment Monday–Friday, 10:30am–5:30pm
Download Press Release (PDF)

Exhibition
Through December 2

Maliyamungu Gift Muhande: Kobikisa

The International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) presents Kobikisa, an exhibition of new work by Maliyamungu Gift Muhande, recipient of The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund residency at ISCP. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, raised there and in South Africa, and now based in New York City, Muhande investigates her identity, Blackness, and diasporic history through diverse media including film, painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, and social practice. Translated as “to heal” in Lingala, Kobikisa features an immersive video installation and a series of large-scale works on paper that create a space of healing and self-empowerment in ISCP’s first floor project space. The presentation is curated by Lauren Wolchik.

The centerpiece, or altar, of the exhibition is an intimate video projection of Muhande receiving acupuncture and massage treatments at the Life Wellness Center in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. She considers the treatments to be collaborative acts of artmaking, charged by shared ancestral experiences: Black women exchanging Black tenderness in order to heal one another. Muhande’s documentation of the sessions grew out of a desire to see her “Black flesh, Black body, Black physique being held tenderly by another—and not just any other, but another Black woman” on screen. Muhande aims to normalize and celebrate images of Black trust, tenderness, and healing.

The film installation is experienced in a counterclockwise sequence, in opposition to the direction enslaved African people were forced to walk around the “Tree of Oblivion” in Benin before boarding transatlantic ships. Colonial slave traders enacted this ritual to try to make their captives forget their origins. The “Tree of Oblivion” is further alluded to in Muhande’s Body Prints, works on paper mounted to wood panels that stand against the gallery walls, surrounding the video installation. These terracotta-colored tempera paintings are created through literal self-embraces and reference an ancestral Congolese ceremony that uses clay. Muhande further defines her own figure with meandering ink lines drawn counterclockwise, a meditative practice that recalls tree rings and records the passing of time.

Of these works the artist explains, “In the process of reconnecting to my roots, digging for what the colonists attempted to erase, this healing practice—body painting with clay—came to me intuitively. I was delighted that my mother, upon seeing the works for the first time, recognized in my process a traditional coming-of-age ritual for young women in the Congo. So now I see that just as the body holds trauma, it also holds ancestral truths, memories, and rituals. By listening to my body’s wisdom, I discovered an artistic modality that brings me joy by connecting me with my lineage.”

Maliyamungu Gift Muhande is a quadrilingual (Swahili, Lingala, French, English) Congolese artist, filmmaker, and educator based in New York. Her work explores the global history of the African diaspora at the intersection of anti-colonialism and artistic creativity. Muhande’s documentary film about NYC street photographer Louis Mendes, Nine Days a Week, was screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and 2020 Doc NYC festival, and selected by the 2020 National Board of Review. By documenting stories from communities of African descent, she creates an historical archive for use by future generations. She has exhibited her artwork in New York City and beyond, and is currently a Sundance Producer Summit Fellow and artist-in-residence at Jacob Burns Film Center. Additionally, Muhande is a part-time faculty member at Parsons School of Design. Muhande was an artist-in-residence at ISCP and Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellow in 2022.

Lauren Wolchik is an independent curator, producer, and the founder of GLORIA’S, a project space in lower Manhattan that showcases work by underrepresented artists in New York City and beyond. Wolchik is currently the Exhibitions Manager at PACE, New York, and was previously the Exhibitions & Production Manager at David Zwirner, Studio Manager for David Byrne and Lawrence Weiner, and Production Office Manager across New York City venues including Central Park Summerstage, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and Carnegie Hall. She has produced events at institutions including MoMA PS1 and Pioneer Works, was a Guest Curator at the Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency in 2019, and an artist-in-residence at Silent Barn in 2015. Additionally, she was an artist for the Biden for President Campaign and performed in the Performa 19 Biennial. Wolchik lives and works in New York City.

Maliyamungu Gift Muhande: Kobikisa is supported by The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; Hartfield Foundation; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; New York City Council District 33; New York City Council District 34; New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Legislature; and William Talbott Hillman Foundation.

Additional support has been provided by San Francisco Foundation; Living Ritual; Robert Baker & Marcia Hecht; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK.

By visiting ISCP, you agree to abide by the following health and safety policies. Please make sure to plan ahead for your visit.

  • Four visitors are allowed in the galleries at a time, and appointments are required. Please write to info@iscp-nyc.org to schedule an appointment.
  • All visitors are required to maintain social distancing, keeping six feet from anyone not in their party.
  • Masks or face coverings are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for visitors.
  • If you have fever, chills, cough, muscle pains, headache, loss of taste or smell, or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 prior to your visit, please contact us to reschedule.
  • An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious conditions exists in any public space where people are present. Those visiting the International Studio & Curatorial Program voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, other infectious conditions, and other hazards that may be present in a public space.
Open Hours: By appointment Monday–Friday, 10:30am–5:30pm
Download Press Release (PDF)

Participating Residents