sangre y barro

COOPER COLE is pleased to present a solo exhibition by ektor garcia. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

sangre y barro
dolor y amor
suave y duro
dulce y sabor a metal
puro y sucio
inocente y malvado
moribundo y viviendo
feo y bello

blood and clay
pain and love
soft and hard
sweet and taste of metal
pure and filthy
innocent and wicked
dying and living
ugly and beautiful

ektor garcia’s art is grounded in the body, in touch and tactility. Every element of sangre y barro is made, crafted, formed, manipulated, and arranged by the artist’s hands. Hand shaped and glazed terra cotta, stoneware, and porcelain. Intertwined ceramic rope and chain. Hand made copper wire lace, crocheted ropes, twined threads. Hand sewn leather hides. Imprints, mark making, fingerprints, gestures: the trace of the artist’s hands are everywhere. Every material, every found object — bike tires, goat horns, horse shoes, rusted horse bits, chains, cords, doilies, decorative domestic textiles — holds the tactile memory of garcia’s hands. They call out to us to be touched in return, tempting us, even daring us — to touch. But we can’t touch them back. The gallery is at once a space of sensory overload, and sensory deprivation. So how can we make up for the inability to touch?

The work demands that we engage beyond looking, that we engage our other senses, like smell, and that we activate our more visceral sensibilities, like desire, fear, sadness, anger, disgust. The work also insists that we rely on different modes of perception altogether, like our subjectivities, identities, lived experiences, memories, fantasies. On empathy, compassion, longing, vulnerability, interpersonal connection. The work implores us feel, to sense the works’ less immediately perceptible traces:

Hands crocheting doilies placing them under plastic protecting covering the couch next to a cabinet with a wedding dress with a photo of a quinceañera perched on top next to a cowboy hat in front of a side-table with plastic flowers and family photographs
Hands picking strawberries in the blaring sun in the endless sprawling growing fields in California Hands on rusted metal in abuelo’s rancho garage
Bleeding hands
An American passport passed back and forth between traveler and border agent Hands wrapped around bicycle handlebars.
Hands on lovers’ bodies.

Queer Mexican American hands. Not to be confused or conflated with “the hand” of Western art history, a hand that is Euro-American and masculine and cis-male. garcia travels regularly, across all five continents, always collecting and working on things as an integral part of his practice. His queer brown hands mark the trajectories of objects and materials sourced and collected in places like his grandparents’ land in Tabasco in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico; on bike rides across New York City where he currently lives and works; and in Toronto on days spent installing the works. His queer brown hands carried these works across national borders between Mexico, the United States, and Canada — countries bound together by militarized border systems, neoliberal trade agreements, and settler colonial and colonizing regimes.

And so the works are imbued with cultural, geographical and sexual histories, histories of violence and resistance, subversion and survival, family and community. They embody personal, familial, territorial, and cross-cultural histories of struggle and resistance. And they are invested with garcia’s experiences growing up between borders, classes, identities, cultures, and languages.

Other significant influences also include radical queerness, anarcho-punk sensibilities and community, and Mexican and Chicanx domestic aesthetics. While often described in terms of craft and the domestic, garcia’s works challenge dominant art historical understandings of both. The artist draws on thousands of years’ worth of local, indigenous, campesino, Mexican craft — on hand skills, materials, processes and expertise that persist despite Euro-American attempts at erasure, appropriation, exploitation, and monetization — on modes of hand production deployed long before white male historians “invented” definitions of what we now call “craft”.

The artist’s embrace of specifically Mexican, Chicanx, and queer domesticities also refutes art historical notions of “the domestic”, an exclusionary and largely unattainable, white, heteronormative space of classed and raced privilege. Instead garcia valorizes specifically brown, decidedly queer and migrant strategies like mess and domesticana (the crafting of Chicanx working class domestic space), characterized by abundance, accumulation, reuse, impermanence, and site specificity — strategies of necessity and survival, movement and migration(1).

garcia is intrigued by the idea of craft as the possibility of crafting or creating a new world, new futures that extend beyond the reach of dominant systems like capitalism, neoliberalism, and imperialism, and homonormative queer politics like gay marriage. The need to create new futures resonates in the work of the Cuban American queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz, who notes that the present is not enough, and that queerness is a horizon or possibility through which we can reclaim freedom and remake oppressive systems. Writing about transgender identity and community, scholar and curator Jeanne Vaccaro observes that creating community is a type of handmade: it is collective, made with and across bodies, objects, and forces of power. Creating and sustaining community is very much a type of craft: it requires skill, dialogue, risk taking, compromise, patience, compassion, and generosity — much like working with craft materials like textiles, clay, metal, and wood.

There are also parallels between garcia’s strategies of assemblage and installation — bringing discreet objects together to create new spatial, formal, and aesthetic relations — and the creation of community. Each and every discreet object or material in sangre y barro depends on a constellation of other objects and materials. Each can stand alone, but is much more powerful within larger systems of mutual solidarity and support. These works are a metaphor for coming together, for garcia’s community of radical queers, punks, anarchists, anti-capitalists, and artists.

Violent systems of social, political, and economic oppression seek to destroy collectivity, cooperation, and community. And so garcia’s work reminds us that we need community to break the forms of isolation and subjugation unleashed by colonialism, capitalism, xenophobia, and white supremacy. We need community to help us craft a different reality, a more sustainable present and a more promising future.

— Lisa Vinebaum
Lisa Vinebaum is a scholar, artist and educator: lisavinebaum.com

(1) On domesticana, see Mesa-Bains; on mess, see Manalansan.

ektor garcia (b. 1985, Red Bluff, California, USA) received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014, and his MFA from Columbia University, New York in 2016. Solo exhibitions include Mary Mary, Glasgow, Scotland; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; kurimanzutto, Salon ACME, Mexico City, Mexico. Group exhibitions include LAXART, Los Angeles; New Museum, Salon 94, Sargent’s Daughters, New York; Chicken Coop Contemporary, Portland, USA; Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico; ACCA, Melbourne, Australia. garcia lives and works in between Mexico City, New York, and wherever he loses himself.

Artworks

ektor garcia

Grannysquared

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Grannysquared, 2019

Latex, sinew

13.5" X 13" X 0.5"
34.29cm X 33.02cm X 1.27cm

ektor garcia

Latex Bulbs

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Latex Bulbs, 2019

Crochet cotton, latex, sinew

43.5" X 13" X 0.5"
110.49cm X 33.02cm X 1.27cm

ektor garcia

herraduras

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herraduras, 2019

Welded steel horseshoes

3.5" X 26" X 7"
8.89cm X 66.04cm X 17.78cm

ektor garcia

empezar I

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empezar I, 2018

Crochet leather, welded steel

180" X 48" X 46.5"
457.2cm X 121.92cm X 118.11cm

ektor garcia

Toronto bike

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Toronto bike, 2019

Suede, bike

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

cadenas II

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cadenas II, 2019

Steel, leather, waxed thread

43" X 10" X 2"
109.22cm X 25.4cm X 5.08cm

ektor garcia

tobasco

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tobasco, 2019

Steel, copper, glazed ceramic

36" X 22" X 7"
91.44cm X 55.88cm X 17.78cm

ektor garcia

portal VI

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portal VI, 2019

Polyester, earthenware, found fabrics, copper

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

portal V

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portal V, 2019

Leather, steel, canvas, lace, goat horn, sinew, blood

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

portal IV

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portal IV, 2019

Plastic garbage bags, waxed thread, cast aluminum, electrical tape, enamel paint

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

portal III

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portal III, 2019

Copper, steel

73.5" X 37" X 62.5"
186.69cm X 93.98cm X 158.75cm

ektor garcia

portal II

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portal II, 2019

Steel, leather, copper

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

portal 1

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portal 1, 2019

Copper, leather, bike tubes

58.4" X 23.4"
148.34cm X 59.44cm

ektor garcia

Metalhaus

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Metalhaus, 2019

Steel

19.5" X 8" X 5"
49.53cm X 20.32cm X 12.7cm

ektor garcia

Melbournebikeride

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Melbournebikeride, 2019

Wood, bike tubes, steel, leather, ceramic, henequen

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

manosdecobre

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manosdecobre, 2019

Copper

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

manodebarro

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manodebarro, 2019

Earthenware, leather

31.5" X 16" X 22"
80.01cm X 40.64cm X 55.88cm

ektor garcia

lunasol

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lunasol, 2019

Steel, horse hair

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

link

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link, 2019

Sinew, stoneware

36" X 5" X 1"
91.44cm X 12.7cm X 2.54cm

ektor garcia

gancho

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gancho, 2019

Steel, plastic

19.5" X 5.5" X 0.5"
49.53cm X 13.97cm X 1.27cm

ektor garcia

figura

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figura, 2019

Steel, latex, copper

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

Fe

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Fe, 2019

Steel

35.5" X 12" X 9"
90.17cm X 30.48cm X 22.86cm

ektor garcia

esfera

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esfera, 2019

Glazed ceramic, copper, Ciriza's hair

ektor garcia

el rancho de la cruz

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el rancho de la cruz, 2019

Steel, copper

17" X 7" X 7"
43.18cm X 17.78cm X 17.78cm

ektor garcia

cunjunto

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cunjunto, 2019

Glazed ceramic

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

cuerno

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cuerno, 2019

Copper, goat horn, cotton

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

Cu

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Cu, 2019

Copper

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

colgante II

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colgante II, 2019

Leather, wood, copper

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

colgante I

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colgante I, 2019

Steel, bike tubes, copper, leather

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

chainmales

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chainmales, 2019

Glazed porcelain, and earthenware

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

lederquilt

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lederquilt, 2018

Leather and sewing needles

55.5" X 55.5"
140.97cm X 140.97cm

ektor garcia

carrete

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carrete, 2019

Copper, leather

Dimensions variable

ektor garcia

cadenas

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cadenas, 2018

Stoneware and copper

83" X 5" X 4"
210.82cm X 12.7cm X 10.16cm

ektor garcia

matanza

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matanza, 2012

Leather and hemp thread

92" X 36" X 10"
233.68cm X 91.44cm X 25.4cm