Art and Science Fiction Meets Culture and Identity

By Chloe Rodriguez, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
January 27, 2018

Ever wondered about different modes of art expression from people outside of the U.S.? Well, Mundos Alternos is a wonderful opportunity to explore that curiosity. It’s accessible, informative, and right here in Riverside. One of the co-curators is a UCR faculty member of the English Department, Robb Hernández. Mundos Alternos “was initially sparked by the Getty Foundation Initiative LA/LA (Los Angeles/Latin America)”. The exhibition is an innovative way to reimagine the intersections of speculative art in the Americas with a hemispheric perspective. According to Hernández, UCR “is a very vibrant place with its own science fiction program. A Hispanic serving institution that can boldly relate to issues of the Latino community.” Mundos Alternos features artists from over nine Latin American nations and ten U.S. cities including El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and the Texas Borderlands. “The show focuses on the last thirty years of contemporary art production related to a global science fiction impulse,” he said. The challenge for the curatorial team was to identify how artists use science fiction as a creative resource while portraying struggles such as genocide, surveillance, medical testing, dictatorship, all of which have pervaded Latin America. Many of these artists are being shown for the first time in the U.S. and Southern California, in particular. Out of the more than eighty shows featured in LA/LA, Mundos Alternos is one of the only exhibits to include contemporary Salvadoran artists. One of these artists, Beatriz Cortez, created a memory space capsule to convey the real experiences of U.S. intervention in Central America precipitating violence, death, and erasure “What could a time machine do for a population that had to forget in order to survive?” Hernández asked. As co-curator Hernández worked closely on a section entitled ‘Alien Skins’ which features otherworldly personas and cosmic apparitions. One of these skins is by San Antonio artist, L.A. Vatocosmico. Made with Day Glo paints, he conveys a Barrio identity by dragging the future through resplendent fabrics and taco eating alien icons. Questioning a Latin American art practice that is forthcoming, it is an eye on a Latinx futurism that has long been proposed and as this exhibition shows, continues to be defined.

Currently, Robb Hernández is working with UCR ARTSBlock to travel with the show in the future. Also, in conjunction with Mundos Alternos, he taught an undergraduate course at UCR on Latinx Futurism which was a behind the scenes look of the show. In that class, each student used a speculative paradigm and focused on how they would have imagined the show differently. They oversaw a list of artists who could have been a part of it. Hernández, based on research compiled, is also taking up residency at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, one of the top American art museums in the country for the remainder of the academic year. There, he is also currently researching a book project to “harness a transnational conversation in speculative understanding of Latinidad...and Riverside is a wonderful place to start”. To learn more about the Mundos Alternos show, visit the website at https://artsblock.ucr.edu/Exhibition/mundos-alternos.

Art and Science Fiction

Art and Science Fiction

Art and Science Fiction

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