Postcommodity group to show video piece on U.S.-Mexico border at New York exhibition
Indigenous arts collective Postcommodity — whose members include two Arizona State University alumni — has been selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial in 2017.
The invitational exhibition is the longest-running survey of contemporary art in the U.S., according to the Whitney Museum of American Art’s website. It will feature the work of 63 participants ranging from painting to activism to video game design. Key themes for 2017 include formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society.
Being invited to take part is transformative for Postcommodity.
“It’s one of most gratifying moments of my creative life,” said collective member and co-founder Kade Twist, an alumnus of the ASU School of Art.
Postcommodity began in 2007 “to look at indigenous narratives of self-determination” and use them as "a place of creativity and a means of sharing knowledge systems," Twist said.
For the Whitney Biennial, Postcommodity — made up of Twist, ASU alumnus Cristobal Martinez and Raven Chacon — will be showing a video titled “A Very Long Line.” The video consists of footage of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, filmed while driving alongside it, set to an original soundtrack composed by the artists.
The work is meant as a critique on “the ways in which nation-state borders have de-socialized us from one another,” said Martinez, an ASU alumMartinez also received a doctorate in rhetoric, composition and linguistics from the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2015, after completing a master’s in media arts and science and bachelor’s degrees in studio art and painting, in the Herberger Institute’s School of Arts, Media + Engineering and School of Art, respectively. and postdoctoral fellow at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Center for the Art and Science of TeachingThe Center for the Art and Science of Teaching takes a novel approach to developing teachers of the future, recognizing that teaching doesn’t happen only in schools, but in homes, museums, workplaces and through all kinds of media. CAST’s goal is to develop teachers as designers, guides and advocates of good learning experiences whether they happen in or out of schools..
Four-channel video installation “A Very Long Line,” by Postcommodity
It’s not the first time borders have been a theme in the group’s work. In the group’s 2015 “Repellent Fence,” they used 26 giant balloons (pictured at the top of this story) to create a 2-mile line bisecting a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Whitney Biennial runs begins in March in New York City. Follow Postcommodity at www.postcommodity.com.
Members of the artist collective Postcommodity (from left) Cristobal Martinez, Kade Twist and Raven Chacon. Martinez and Twist are alumni of ASU's School of Art. Click through this gallery for a sampling of the group's work.
Warning: This slideshow contains images that some readers may find disturbing.Photo courtesy Postcommodity
"Do You Remember When?" 2009
In 2009, Postcommodity had its first museum show, "Do You Remember When?" at the ASU Art Museum's Ceramic Research Center. It would re-create the show three years later at the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Australia.
It involved removing a section of the gallery's concrete floor and incorporated elements of traditional indigenous ceremony.Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
“The ASU Art Museum is kind of a spiritual home for us,” Martinez said. “It was the place that offered us the resources and opportunities to emerge” as artists.
Twist commends the faculty of the ASU Art Museum and School of Art for their commitment to their students.
“Every student there is lucky to have access to that,” he said.Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
"My Blood is in the Water," 2010
When the collective was commissioned to create a piece for the 400th anniversary of the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, they wanted to pay tribute to the traditional processes through which indigenous people put food on the table while also critiquing the historical commoditization of goods produced by indigenous peoples.Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
“Postcommodity has many meanings,” Martinez said. But “Postcommodity ties to the broader public in the sense that perhaps a postcommodity future entails a time when persons are no longer defined by their capacity for consumption and spending.”Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
"The Night is Filled With the Harmonics of Suburban Dreams," 2011
“Cristobal and I both came of age in the Phoenix art community,” Twist said, “and we both received tremendous benefits from that. There’s just something about the Phoenix art community that is so generative, reciprocal and respectful.”Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
The influence of the city is seen in “The Night is Filled With the Harmonics of Suburban Dreams,” which uses a ubiquitous feature of suburban Phoenix life to comment on “the unbalanced feedback loop generated by markets and consumers … where an economy driven by the Judeo-Christian Western scientific worldview simultaneously produces scarcities and an industry of ‘sustainability.’”Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
"Repellent Fence," 2015
Last year, with support from the ASU Art Museum, Postcommodity produced “Repellent Fence,” an ambitious piece of land art consisting of 26 giant "scare eye" balloons positioned in a 2-mile-long line bisecting a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
The inspiration for the piece came from the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose land is divided by the U.S.-Mexico border.
Communities in Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, collaborated in what Twist called an example of how “both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples ... can work together to realize their visions of the borderland regardless of federal policy.”Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
"A Very Long Line," 2016
While “Repellent Fence” unified people separated by the border, this piece documents the border wall itself.
Video is projected onto four walls in an enclosed space to simulate the “noise and confusion generated by all of the competing values ... and perceptions tied to the border,” Martinez said, “creating a dizzying and de-socializing effect.”Photo courtesy of Postcommodity
Filmed from the perspective of the U.S. looking at Mexico, Twist said it reveals the border wall as “really about isolating ourselves.”
“It’s also an incredibly racist statement,” he added. “We don’t have anything like that [between the U.S. and] Canada. … That wall is a monument to structural racism in the Western Hemisphere. 'A Very Long Line' is a way of disarming that monument.”Photo courtesy of Postcommodity