CCS Bard Galleries, April 29 – May 27, 2012
Artist: Donna Huanca
El Saturn Records’ founder Alton Abraham’s notebook sketches of an imaginary, multi-leveled El Saturn Cosmic Research Center – with an “El Saturn Wisdom Research Culture Art Foundation” and “Sound Department” – hold a special place in Afrofuturism’s history of sonic experiments. This exhibition was conceived with a speculative premise: what if the Center had actually come to fruition and continued to operate in our present context? Invited to contribute work to this imaginary site as a “sound scientist” is multidisciplinary artist Donna Huanca. She will create a sonic-installation testing the potential of her sound-based art practice and subjective investigations into her Incan-Andean ancestry. If El Saturn offered a relation between myth-science, counter-narratives and ideas of self-determination, Huanca takes up this relation in the context of sound technology and the gallery space. As a site for this interdisciplinary investigation, the gallery offers a dialogue between Huanca’s longstanding interest in the psychology of genetic memory, and the diasporic effects of heritage and ancestry. While the installation quotes histories of ethnographic display, sound will interrupt the temporal sequence of objects, creating a fragmented experience, but also producing alternate channels of narrative production and movement within the exhibition space. Stemming from explorations into national origins and feelings of cultural displacement, Huanca engages with cultural imaginaries and myths that for her are both present and absent. As Sun Ra once said, “The myth is neither bad nor good, its potentials are unlimited.”
Curated by Andrew Rebatta
Donna Huanca (b. 1980, Chicago, IL, lives and works in Berlin and Mexico City) creates large-scale installations using discarded materials, in particular clothing, shoes, and fabrics. Her installations create platforms that are performative in nature, oscillating between the aesthetics of ritual arrangements and ethnographic museum display. Huanca employs the psychological term “genetic memory” as a way to examine and question whether heritage and ancestry leave a lasting effect on humans that have been removed from their natural environment. Huanca received her BFA in Painting from the University of Houston (2004), studied at Städelschule, Frankfurt, Germany, with Mark Leckey and Tobias Rehberger (2009-10), and was most recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship (2012) to Mexico City.