Diógenes Ballester
Rimer Cardillo
José Castillo
Marina Gutierrez
Miguel Luciano
Radhamés Mejía
Fernando Salicrup

by Jani Konstantinovski Puntos

by Diógenes Ballester

by Taína Caragol, Art Historian


Engranaje Global : Journeys in Multipolarity
By Diógenes Ballester, El Barrio, New York City 2003

intersecting circles
from distinct centers
pass through
overlapping space
creating new configurations
on multiple planes
in a universe
of simple complexity
i look
for the intersecting circles
of my life
our lives
they are of a magical quality
the i and the thou
the subject and object
an illusive process
which occurs
beyond the realm
of mathematical formulas
in sacred places
where spirits dwell
--mb 7/2003

As co-curator and exhibiting artist, it is an honor for me to be part of this exhibition, Intersecting Circles: Metaphors of Caribbean and Latin American Transnationalism, presented at the Dominik Rostworosky Gallery in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the International Print Triennial in Krakow, Poland. This exhibition grew out of an exchange between Krakow's own artist, Jani Konstantinovski Puntos and myself, at the International Print and Drawing Biennial of Taipei in 2001. Over the past two years, I have been privileged to share hours of intense discussions with Mr. Puntos on the meanings and symbolism in our work.

As a Puerto Rican immigrant in the United States and as a resident in Paris for several years, I have been confronted with the interaction of various cultures in post-industrial metropolises. In what I would like to call the multicultural diaspora now underway, millions of exiles, refugees, and migrant laborers are becoming multi-polarized individuals. Viewing this aspect of globalization through the lens of an exile, my art manifests an attempt to make sense of this process, to preserve ancestral wisdom, and to embrace a syncretized existence. I am not alone on this journey, as you will witness in the present exhibition. Each of the seven exhibiting Latin American artists expresses a unique perspective on the phenomena of diaspora and global multi-polarization.

As a guide and companion through the at times complex matter, we have assembled the catalogue at hand. Its core piece, an extensive and careful essay by the art historian Taína Caragol, unfolds some of the thoughts that have been relevant for this exhibition, from the theoretical point of view of Transnationalism. Embedded in the intellectual frame of Taína Caragol’s essay Intersecting Circles: Prints and Drawings of Transnational Latin America and The Caribbean, you will find precious comments, explanation and background information about the artists and their works. The essay will introduce you to the photo silkscreen prints of the Uruguayan-born New York State resident Rimer Cardillo, his fossilized animals and archeological objets trouvés. It will elucidate the traces of the ancient African and Taíno culture and its magical reality in the drawings and collages of the Dominican exiles José Castillo and Radhames Mejía, and ungarble their network of innuendos to mythology and social and political grievances in the region they had to leave behind. You will find different aspects of indigenous and ancestral wisdom in the spiritual essences, Afro-Caribbean figures and dignified Madamas in my own work. In turn, you might want to compare these to the Taíno motifs in the digital prints of Fernando Salicrup, a Puerto Rican born in New York, who contrasts the American dream of Latino immigrants with the social reality on the streets of the Barrios of New York. Similarly, our catalogue essay will clarify the decidedly feminist perspective of New-York-born Puerto Rican Marina Gutierrez, and point to her musings and meditations about a "Latino" or "Hispanic" consumer society in New York City. Last but not least, the essay offers valuable comments about Miguel Luciano’s play- and skillful manipulations of mass culture imagery and objects, and his political-cultural statements about a society that has not ceased to be colonialized in the worldwide mangle of globalization.

While the stories told in these works call for serious reflection on what appears to be a fractured world, they are not thought to be leading to alienation and relativist singularization. A shattered world is not our rationale. Rather, the tracing of local, regional, and global universals in the personal lives we share, leads us to a common ground, where the circles of our lives get connected - engranaje global.

I consider this exhibition, here in the culturally rich soil of Krakow, as a planting of a seed that will continue to grow because of the power of the concept embodied in the exhibition itself. The artists included here are examples of so many other artists who are in political and spiritual exile, living in multicultural, cosmopolitan cities. Resilient troubadours, they are creating powerful art - art that offers new meaning, understanding, and hope for a more humanistic process of globalization.

The next stage for Intersecting Circles: Metaphors of Caribbean and Latin American Transnationalism is to create a journey for this exhibition itself, that is, to have the exhibition travel from Krakow to Paris and then New York. And there are hopes for this journey: at each stop in its itinerary the exhibition will gather into its fold, new works by other artists -- new artists coming on board to, in effect, syncretize or link -- arm in arm -- abrazos.


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