Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 12 from 6pm to 8pm
The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas announces the opening of Del Sur, retratos de Punta Arenas y Valparaíso, an exhibition of work by Chilean photographer Vicente González Mimica.
The artist presents black-and-white portraits of two cities in the south of Chile. Like in the Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities, one city (London) is described as law-abiding and orderly analogous to how the artist presents Punta Arenas and is contrasted with a largely politically agitated city (Paris), which is how González sees Valparaíso. As the artist describes: “The city is violent to me at first sight, perhaps with the character of who has made himself. It grows every day like the jungle that penetrates its streams in all the hills that make it up to reach the sea. It is not planned, it only occupies the spaces left by nature, like plants in an abandoned garden.”
In González’s Liceo series, he celebrates the individual achievements of each student, while seeing the fruits of hard work of families, teachers, and friends. They have been suspended in a defining time adolescence and hope. These students’ portraits in school uniforms, in long Liceo hallways and in workshops wearing trade uniforms, is reminiscent of a hopeful past. It is as if González were evoking the ancestors who arrived to these shores to fulfil dreams and prosper. As Alfred Doblin wrote on August Sanders’ portraits of German people: they are a maximized expression of the combined efforts of a social class, where the greatest achievement is the taming of individuality. He adds that it was their desire to succeed that brought them to this point, and that belonging to this place ultimately held them back as people.
In González’s works, the desire to drive is clear, while the destination is less certain. By being location-ambiguous, he brings to light this concern with education as an instrument of uprooting. In Valparaiso, González becomes a street poet. Lost in the anonymous crowd, he seeks to rescue individualities. From his fascination with faces comes fugitive visions, and where he fixes his gaze generates a familiar bond with his heart, allowing him to access another persons spirit. González is subtly complicit with his subjects, leading them to reveal individualities through sharp contrasts of shapes and forms. His excited curiosity to know another person, amid strange urban spaces, contributes to his stories, in which protagonists are inspired by friends, relatives, colleagues, lovers, or by the person in front of him. Stories that take shape in no particular time, within a family, are formed through emotional ties, resilient with a steady, vital appetite.
Vicente González Mimica was born in 1964 in Punta Arenas, the capital of Chilean Patagonia. He has been working in photography since 1989 after finishing his studies at the Escuela de Foto Arte de Chile. In 2002 he held his first solo show in a Río Verde, Magallanes, Chile exhibition on the subjects of the inhabitants and landscapes of Patagonia. In that moment, he began to develop his personal work, and has since participated in several solo and group exhibitions, in Chile and abroad. He was awarded best portfolio at the 2016 International Photography Festival of Valparaíso. He is presently developing two projects funded by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage of Chile. He is part of En-Transit, an artist collective marking the 500-year anniversary of the discovery of the Strait of Magellan, as well as an individual project exploring identities of the regions inhabitants.
The AMA serves as the principal instrument of cultural diplomacy of the OAS. AMA’s mission is founded on the notion that the arts are transformative for individuals and communities. This guiding principle promotes the core values of the OAS by providing a space for cultural expression, creativity, innovation, dialog, and learning, while highlighting themes such as democracy, development, human rights, justice, freedom of expression, and innovation. AMA’s work draws on contemporary art to showcase a constructive vision of the future of the Americas via local and hemispheric cultural exchange.
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AMA | Art Museum of the Americas is located at 201 18th Street NW.