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Our galleries are temporarily closed for installation until September 9. Our building remains open to the public, including the ICA Shop, Community Media Center, and the exhibition Doing Language : Word Work. View the calendar to see ongoing in-person and virtual events.

HIGH FIVE

HIGH FIVE is a series of bite-sized interviews with artists, curators, community partners, and staff members intended to give you a behind-the-scenes look into what's happening at the ICA. In five questions or less, we'll dive deeper into upcoming exhibitions, programming, and other aspects of the ICA that deserve a little more attention.
HIGH FIVE: Miguel A. Lopez

MIGUEL A. LÓPEZ, INDEPENDENT CURATOR & WRITER

This month, the ICA opens Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay, an exhibition that proposes a conversation between late artists Sila Chanto (Costa Rica) and Belkis Ramírez (Dominican Republic). This show is the first international revision of both artists’ works after their passing in 2015 and 2019, respectively.

The curator behind this newly commissioned exhibition is writer, researcher, and independent curator Miguel A. López. After cultivating an admiration for the revolutionary works of both Chanto and Ramírez, López proposed an exhibition that would be a hypothetical dialogue between the two artists whose work shares so many affinities. By introducing experimental printmaking techniques, both women advanced new ways of discussing the body, power relations, architecture, patriarchal violence, and environmental issues in deeply conservative societies.

We talked to López about his inspiration behind Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay, how he first came to admire the work of these artists, and what’s on the horizon for 2023 and beyond.


 
Can you tell us a little about your inspiration behind the exhibition? How did you first become interested in the work of Sila Chanto and Belkis Ramírez?
 
I moved to Costa Rica in June 2015 to join the non-profit art space TEOR/éTica as chief curator. One month after my arrival, Sila Chanto passed away, and I started to learn about her impressive work. I felt sad about not having been able to meet her personally. I met Belkis Ramírez during one of my visits to the Dominican Republic in 2016. I fell in love with her work immediately. Honestly, I always thought of inviting her to develop a new project, but her untimely death in 2019 made that impossible. The show fosters a conversation between these two powerful feminist voices that I admire and who were deeply influential for at least two generations of artists. In 2020, I curated a revision of Chanto’s work at TEOR/éTica, but this new exhibition is like a dream come true. I was imagining creating a dialogue between these two amazing artists for at least four years. The project stresses how Sila Chanto and Belkis Ramírez not only revolutionized printmaking techniques but openly confronted misogynistic violence and patriarchal structures.

 
Where did the title Aquí Me Quedo / Here I Stay come from?
 
The title came from a beautiful piece by Belkis Ramírez installed at the entrance of the exhibition: a small-scale woodblock print on paper that depicts a foot with painted toes and the phrase “Here I Stay”. I love the delicate and defiant way that feminine (or feminized) foot stomps and claims its own space. The bare foot suggests that she is perhaps stepping on the sand, but always saying out loud “here I am, and I’m not leaving,” which is what the brave work of Sila and Belkis basically did in such a male-dominated cultural contexts.
 

Can you tell us about the project or exhibition you’ve worked on in the past that has meant the most to you?
 
It’s quite difficult to pick just one, but I would say that “Losing the Human Form. A Seismic Image of the 1980s in Latin America” (2012) curated by Red Conceptualismos del Sur at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, was a transformative experience for me. The project was a collaborative effort of 35 researchers and curators working together across Latin America for more than three years to present around six hundred elements that reflected various forms of creative activism in contexts marked by political repression, military dictatorships, and social violence.
 

What are your favorite aspects of curating an exhibition, and what are some of the most challenging?
 
What I love about working with living artists are the endless conversations, which is a way to entering in their creative universes full of forms, textures, and ideas. When doing historical research, the most exciting part is discovering works that invite you to change your hypothesis, perspectives, and interpretative frameworks. The most challenging part of curating for me is always the mediation process, that is, the decisions around how to contextualize the works but giving enough space for new meanings and understandings that goes beyond the local.
 

What’s next for you in 2022/2023?

I’m preparing a show in Lima in collaboration with the Shipibo collective Non Shinanbo (“Our inspirations”), an indigenous, women-led, community-based organization living and working in Lima that created around ninety powerful paintings, drawings, and embroideries addressing her experiences during the sanitary and social crisis of 2020 and 2021. The project, co-curated with Gala Berger, is part of INSITE Commonplaces and will be presented at the Lima Contemporary Art Museum this October.

I’m also preparing a new version of the retrospective exhibition of Cecilia Vicuña taking as a starting point the environmental justice and the urgency to respond to the environmental crisis resulting from the desertification of the land, the fires of Amazonian forests, and the disappearance of glaciers. The exhibition will open in May 2023 at the Fine Arts Museum of Santiago, Chile, as part of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Pinochet military coup, and it will travel to other international venues during 2024.

 

Want to learn more about Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay? Join us at the ICA on Thursday, May 26 as curator Miguel A. López and ICA Executive Director Dominic Willsdon lead a panel discussion on the lives and works of Sila Chanto and Belkis Ramírez.

 


 
Miguel A. López is a Peruvian writer, researcher and curator. His work investigates collaborative dynamics and feminist re-articulations of art and culture in recent decades. Between 2015-2020 he worked at TEOR/éTica, Costa Rica, first as Chief Curator, and since 2018 as Co-director. He has published in periodicals such as Artforum, Afterall, ramona, E-flux journal, Art in America, Art Journal, and Manifesta Journal, among others. He is the author of Ficciones disidentes en la tierra de la misoginia (Pesopluma, 2019) and Robar la historia. Contrarrelatos y prácticas artísticas de oposición (Metales Pesados, 2017). He has recently curated “Cecilia Vicuña, a retrospective exhibition” at Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2019, and MUAC-UNAM, Mexico City, 2020; and “Victoria Cabezas and Priscilla Monge: Give Me What You Ask For” at Americas Society, New York, 2019. In 2016 he was recipient of the Independent Vision Curatorial Award from ICI (Independent Curators International), New York.
 

More about Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay

 

Sila Chanto & Belkis Ramírez: Their Lives and Works

Thursday, May 26

6:00 PM–8:00 PM

event

Sila Chanto & Belkis Ramírez: Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay

May 6, 2022 – Jun 19, 2022

exhibition