A Universal History of Infamy
(Los Angeles—August 16, 2017) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents A Universal History of Infamy featuring sixteen U.S. Latino and Latin American artists and collaborative teams who work across a range of media—from installation and performance to sculpture and video—and adopt methodologies from diverse disciplines, including anthropology, history, linguistics, and literature. Most of the works on view are new projects that began during two-month residencies at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. The exhibition spans three venues—a school (Charles White Elementary School), an artist residency complex (18th Street Arts Center), and an encyclopedic museum, LACMA—offering different perspectives, approaches, and scales in each location.
A Universal History of Infamy is presented as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, and curated by Rita Gonzalez, curator and acting department head of contemporary art at LACMA; José Luis Blondet, curator of special initiatives at LACMA; and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, director of the Vincent Price Art Museum.
The title for the exhibition is borrowed from Jorge Luis Borges’s A Universal History of Infamy, a 1935 collection of short stories in which the Argentinian author draws on disparate literary sources—from Mark Twain to Japanese tales—to devise an incomplete encyclopedic volume on infamy. The “A” that begins the title announces the shortcomings of any “universal” history or comprehensive survey. Similarly, the artists represented here upend any notion of absoluteness—regarding what constitutes Latin America and its diaspora, the art that can be associated with this region, and how to approach the complex relationship between culture and place.
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