Conversations Between La Boqueria and Essex Street Market
New York program curated by Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful
August 6 – September 3, 2018
Bernat Daviu and Joana Roda Calvet, Alicia Grullón, Enrique Figueredo, Antonia Pérez, Laia Solé and Thelma García, and Harley Spiller
This project is presented by Artists Alliance Inc., FoodCultura, and Institut Ramon Llull, in collaboration with the Center for Book Arts.
Whose Language Does the Produce Speak? Conversations Between La Boqueria and Essex Street Market is the fruit of a two-year discussion involving Jodi Waynberg, Antoni Miralda, alfonso borragán, Laia Solé, and Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful, as well as Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space in New York, and FoodCultura in Barcelona. Both Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space and FoodCultura function within historic food markets—the Essex Street Market and La Boqueria—which are experiencing major identity shifts as result of the rapidly changing cities in which they exist. This project and its resulting exhibition in New York ask the participating artists to reflect on their creative practices and respond to this in connection to new food trends, waste and recycling, conspicuous consumption, urban development, and tourism and “touristification.” Similarly, it asks participating artists to use performance, film, photography, printmaking, and writing, as active platforms that can facilitate collaborations amongst them, vendors, and patrons; and even intimate rendezvous between the artists and the markets themselves. Some of the questions that emerge: Are these markets a dated version of the cities in which they operate, or do they stand as a counterforce against cultural erasure? Will the evolving markets continue to reflect their neighborhoods or become a simple tool for urban redevelopment; in which case, one can ask, whose language will the produce speak?
Essex Street Market, a 76-year-old marketplace, will be relocating to a new building in the fall of 2018, as one of ten sites to be developed in the surrounding area and is considered one of the largest redevelopment projects in recent New York City history. The complex impact of these significant architectural, as well as socio-cultural and emotional changes, is yet to be imagined. On the other side of the Atlantic, La Boqueria stands as the most important marketspace in Barcelona, Catalonia. The first mention of La Boqueria market dates from 1217 and its most recent incarnation can be traced to 1826 when the market was legally recognized and situated inside its current building. Located in the Ciutat Vella, the old city, with the main entrance on La Rambla, Barcelona’s renowned promenade, the market is considered one of the city’s foremost tourist landmarks. This role, along with the rapidly changing civic character of Barcelona, is affecting its identity, the traditional sellers, and in consequence how the neighborhood uses it, and who the neighborhood becomes.
The program and exhibition at Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space include a partnership consisting of a printmaking residency at the Center for Book Arts. It also includes a panel and other events involving the artists and the public at-large. Most importantly, during the first two weeks of Whose Language Does the Produce Speak? Conversations Between La Boqueria and the Essex Street Market, the gallery will be formatted as a flexible and collaborative studio space; during the last two weeks it will re-embody its role as an exhibition site to celebrate the culmination of the project, and so, Catalonian artists Bernat Daviu and Joana Roda Calvet will work side-by-side with their New York City counterparts Alicia Grullón, and Antonia Pérez. Laia Solé and Thelma García will be reporting directly from La Boqueria to the Essex Street Market, while Enrique Figueredo and the Catalonian artists will collaborate on a limited edition multiple through a print-based residency with the Center for Book Arts. Harley Spiller, for his part, will contribute to the project with a tasty written piece on the Essex Street Market.
ABOUT THE COLLABORATORS
Founded in 1999 by a group of 40 artists on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Artists Alliance Inc. (AAI) dedicated to supporting the careers of emerging and underrepresented artists and curators through residencies, exhibitions, and commissioned projects. Rooted in the Lower East Side (a long-standing epicenter for creative experimentation and cultural diversity) and New York City at-large, AAI focuses on advancing contemporary art practices while cultivating public, social, and cultural discourse using art as a catalyst. Through its three principle programs—Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, LES Studio Program, Public Works—AAI provides a platform for experimentation and collaboration that evolves with the changing needs of the artists and curators whom it serves.
FoodCultura is a wall-less space dedicated to communication and investigation, as well as the global history of food, customs, cultural experiences, and art. The concept FoodCultura explores broader questions related to the modes from which human identities are manifested: their universal rituals, their relationship with local memory, their interbreeding processes, their strategies for preservation and cohesion, their means of conveying or undermining traditions as well as contemporary social practices.
Institut Ramon Llull was established in 2002 with the aim of promoting Catalan language and culture abroad. A public consortium comprised of the Government of Catalonia, the Government of the Balearic Islands, and the City Council of Barcelona, the Institute provides broad international exposure to writers and artists; encourages artistic and cultural exchanges in visual arts, architecture, design, performing arts, music, and film; and supports Catalan language and literature studies in universities.
Founded in 1974, the Center for Book Arts is the first not-for-profit organization of its kind in the nation and remains a model for others around the world. The Center promotes active explorations of both contemporary and traditional artistic practices related to the book as an art object. The Center achieves this by facilitating communication between the book arts community and the larger spheres of contemporary visual and literary arts through exhibitions, classes, public programming, literary presentations, opportunities for artists and writers, publications, and collecting. The Center is the only location in New York City at which visitors can view book arts exhibitions in the context of an active, working studio.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS & CURATOR
Bernat Daviu (b.1985, based in Barcelona) studied Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins, London. His work has been shown at Fundació Joan Miró (Barcelona), Galeria Balaguer (Barcelona), Uma certa falta de coerencia (Porto), Guest Projects (London), Fundació Arranz-Bravo (l’Hospitalet de Llobregat), Can Framis (Barcelona), Bienal de Jafre (Jafre) or Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool), among others. Parallel to his individual work, Daviu’s practice often involves collaborations with other people. An example of this is Forever Blowing Bubbles, an initiative by art historian Joana Roda and him that explore the role of caterings in contemporary art events.
Joana Roda (b. 1987) studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona, as well as History of Art at Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona, La Sorbonne IV in Paris and La Complutense in Madrid. Roda studied Art Direction at ESCAC and different seminars and museography courses. When she lived in Madrid, she worked at the archive of Museo Cerralbo. After finishing History of Art, she moved to Montreal, Canada, where she worked at Lilian Rodriguez gallery, at which time she started to experiment with art catering by serving potato omelettes to collectors. When she returned to Barcelona, Roda began working for a gallery, while partnering with Bernat Daviu in Forever Blowing Bubbles, a project in which they provided food catering for exhibition openings. Forever Blowing Bubbles also made a film called “Guanyar-se les garrofes,” commissioned by Fundació Joan Miró, which introduces a new fictional avant-garde movement marked by the symbol of a carob. After showing the film at Fundació Miró, the film was selected for Loop Discover Awards 2017. In 2016, together with Joana Llauradó, she was awarded INJUVE bursary for a project called “Welcome curator,” shown at La Puntual in Sant Cugat del Vallés and Espacio Trapezio in Madrid. In 2017, Roda opened Bombon projects, a gallery in Barcelona. Currently, she manages this space and coordinates the programming of Centre d’Art Maristany, an art centre in Sant Cugat del Vallés.
Alicia Grullón moves between performance, video, and photography, channeling her interdisciplinary approach towards critiques on the politics of presence- an argument for the inclusion of disenfranchised communities in political and social spheres. Grullón’s works have been shown in numerous group exhibitions including The 8th Floor, Franklin Furnace Archives, Bronx Museum of the Arts, BRIC House for Arts and Media, School of Visual Arts, El Museo del Barrio, Columbia University, Socrates Sculpture Park, Performa 11, and Art in Odd Places. She has received grants from the Puffin Foundation, Bronx Council on the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York, and Franklin Furnace Archives. She has participated in residencies in the United States and Korea among them Center for Book Arts and Artist in the Market Place Bronx Museum of the Arts. She’s presented for the 2017 Whitney Biennial with Occupy Museums, Creative Time Summit 2015, The Royal College of Art, School of Visual Arts, and American Museum of Natural History. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Village Voice, Hyperallergic, Creative Time Reports, Art Fag City, Artnet News, Blouin Artinfo, and The Columbia Spectator.
Enrique Figueredo’s dynamic woodcuts, paintings, and drawings look closely at the forces and issues affecting today’s world—race, religion, immigration, power—and relates those incidents to the visual history of ancient civilizations, the colonization of the Americas, and mythology. He analyzes hardship through two lenses that are simultaneously his own: his identity being perceived as both a white man and a minority. The friction and peace he finds in polarization become the catalyst for Figueredo’s creative visual storytelling. Working through the resistance of woodcut and figurative imagery, a collision of indigenous design and colonial baroque intertwine in Figueredo’s interdisciplinary practice and self-concept. The mixed references do not lead toward a particular narrative resolution; rather they point toward a bold internal imagination. Enrique Figueredo is a Venezuelan-American artist who immigrated from South America at an early age. He is currently an MFA candidate at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Born and raised in New York City, with many summers of her youth spent in Mexico City in the care of her relatives, Antonia A. Perez is a mixed-media artist who collects discarded household detritus and repurposes it into sculpture, works on paper, paintings and site-specific installations. Her work focuses on the transformation of materials, especially plastic bags, which she crochets into a range of forms representing domestic objects or abstract structures referencing the environment, the home, textile design and culture, and hand-made traditions. In addition to making objects, she participates in socially engaged activities centered on crocheting and the environment. She is a teaching artist who has worked with people ages 5 to 95. She is a 2016 recipient of the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Studio Immersion Fellowship and the 2011 Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program Award. She has exhibited her work locally and nationally, including at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, El Museo del Barrio, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, No Longer Empty in Jamaica, Cuchifritos Gallery, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, and the Queens Museum. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Queens College, CUNY.
Laia Solé’s work explores the social and physical dimensions of space. She intervenes in spaces by actions that communicate and/or transform the dynamics of each site, using resources that are immediate and interactive. Her work often develops as a cooperative practice, working with other artists and local communities. In her recent works, she blends her passion for the early cinema’s visual tricks and site-specific actions. She was an Artist-in-Residence at LABMIS at Museu da Imagem e do Som (Sao Paulo), 2012 and has exhibited her work extensively including at MAC (Santiago de Chile); Arts Santa Mònica (Barcelona); The Drawing Center (New York); and the Fundación Chirivella-Soriano (València).
Thelma García is an avid explorer of everyday life, and an NYC-based visual artist and architect. Her work develops primarily through photographic, and video projects centered in exploring subtle and recurring practices of everyday life, specifically how individual and autonomous spaces intersect with public spaces. García’s works have addressed issues like intimacy, the experience of time, or the appropriation of images. In parallel to her individual practice, García has worked in collaboration with other artists developing site-specific and performative works, always conceived as invitations to decelerate and experience an enhanced present, such as Ruidero a sound-walk exploration for Aiop (NYC, 2017).
Harley J. Spiller is an artist who focuses on the ordinary in order to help people see anew, collecting and sharing quotidian artifacts to spark the lifelong love of learning. His work has appeared often in The New York Times, Gastronomica and Flavor & Fortune magazines, and his book Keep the Change: A Collector’s Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes and Other Curious Currency (Princeton Architectural Press) was deemed “beautifully written and designed” by Roberta Smith. Spiller loves cooking for his wife and their son, who may well be the first to have put a maraschino cherry atop a Chinese almond cookie.
Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful treads an elusive path that manifests itself performatively or through experiences where the quotidian and art overlap. During the past seven years, Estévez Raful has received mentorship in the art in everyday life from Linda Mary Montano, a historic figure in the performance art field. Montano and Estévez Raful have also collaborated on several performances. He has curated exhibitions and programs for El Museo del Barrio, the Institute for Art, Religion and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, and Longwood Art Gallery/Bronx Council on the Arts, New York; and for the Filmoteca de Andalucía, Córdoba, Spain. Publications include Pleased to Meet You, Life as Material for Art and Vice Versa (editor) and For Art’s Sake. Born in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, Dominican Republic, in 2011 Estévez was baptized as a Bronxite; a citizen of the Bronx.
This program is co-produced by Institut Ramon Llull, with project support provided by the Center for Book Arts. Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, a program of Artists Alliance Inc, is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This program is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the following for their generous support: Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center, New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc. Special thanks to Antoni Miralda, alfonso borragán, Yaiza MIrabella (Food Cultura); Jadranka Vrsalovic, María Cristina Hall, Olga Díaz Solé, Eva Soria Puig (Institut Ramon Llull); and our team of dedicated volunteers, without whom this program would not be possible.
Cuchifritos is FREE to the public and handicap accessible. Located inside Essex Street Market at the south end nearest Delancey.