8 MARCH - 14 APRIL 2002
The Precious Stone and Gold Factory is presented in conjunction with Houston FotoFest 2002, the Ninth Biennial International Month of Photography.
In The Precious Stone and Gold Factory, Adriana Arenas Ilian draws on contemporary pop culture from her native Colombia to explore the internal and cultural mechanisms of desire. In a disco-like setting, the installation features imagery of luscious tropical sunrises and fruit as well as raging war games and thunderstorms. For Arenas Ilian, these diverse components function together as a kind of factory that entices the viewer into contemplation of love and its clichés. Arenas Ilian explains that the piece uses love as the symbol for reality and life. It’s presented with no excuses so that it allows the viewer to engage with it without shame or embarrassment.
The Precious Stone and Gold Factoryexplores the conventions of narrative and storytelling in several ways. The installation has a musical soundtrack of a love song Lleno de tí (Full of You), by the popular Colombian group El Binomio de Oro. The song is an example of vallenato, a type of music from the Colombian Atlantic Coast which tells of love and hardship through rhythmic accordian, vocals, percussion, and sometimes even electric guitar and keyboard. While vallenato has often been looked down on as unsophisticated, Arenas Ilian seeks to expose its moving literary power. The narrative elements of Lleno de tí draw the audience into a story of love, longing, and heartbreak.
The sunrise images projected in the gallery evoke the conventional settings for passion and intrigue that are common intelénovelas, Latin American television soap operas. For Arenas Ilian, the figurative location of the installation and its stories is the place that each individual constructs … because [all] such spaces have been informed by the media and its clichés of where one should be in order to have a romantic moment.
Arenas Ilian invented a fantastical myth to accompany the installation. She manipulated the myth with software commonly used to generate plots in the film industry, pointing towards the routinized way in which love and lives are sometimes represented in the media and popular culture.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Adriana Arenas Ilian was born in Pereira, Colombia, and educated in Bogotá, London, and New York. Accordingly, many of Arenas Ilian’s pieces have been tinged with nostalgia and a fascination with the difficulties of cultural translation. In Sweet Illusion(1999), for example, billowing pink strands waft from a cotton candy machine atop a mountain in the artist’s native Pereira, accompanied by popular Colombian love songs. Arenas Ilian has had solo exhibitions at The Contemporary Arts Center Cinnicinnati (2000) and Museo de Arte de Pereira (1996,1999) and will have solo exhibitions in New York in 2002 at Roebling Hall, Brooklyn and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Arenas Ilian’s work also has been exhibited at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000); Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art (2001); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2001).