Historically, studies of early 20th-century Pueblo painting focused on the role non-Native anthropologists, artists and patrons played in fostering and marketing Pueblo art. In the last two decades, there has been a shift in approach spearheaded by scholars in the…
Syracuse University Art Museum Hosts Performance Artists Emilio Rojas and Katiushka Melo
The Syracuse University Art Museum will host a live performance by multidisciplinary artists Emilio Rojas and Katiushka Melo on Wednesday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rojas and Melo will be in dialogue with Robert Smithson’s “Double Nonsite, California and Nevada,” included in the museum exhibition “Collections Highlights: 5,500 Years of Art” and on loan from the Art Bridges Foundation.
Working with obsidian mirrors, and using movement, meditations and reflections, the artists will explore Smithson’s biography and land art. They will embody the deeper meanings of Smithson’s piece, which is commonly seen as a clear example of his indoor earthworks. Tracing histories of colonialism, extraction and the landscape, Rojas and Melo’s performance will attempt to contest Smithson’s idea of the non-site by connecting with layered notions of site, land sovereignty, and ritual.
After the performance, Rojas and Melo will be in conversation with Assistant Professor Ethan Madarieta, in the Department of English, at 4 p.m. This daylong performance and dialogue are free and open to the public.
On Thursday, April 6, the museum will host a workshop with Rojas. Taking Smithson’s “Double Nonsite, California and Nevada” as a starting point, the workshop will look at the history of obsidian in Smithson’s practice and will lead participants in a series of exercises to embody the symbolism of this rock in its pre-Hispanic context. The participants will discuss the history of land art as well as ideas and contemporary critiques around indigeneity, colonialism, landscape and the environment. Open to the Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry communities. Registration is required for the workshop, and more details are available on the museum website.
These programs have been generously supported by a Learning and Engagement Grant provided by Art Bridges.
About Emilio Rojas
Emilio Rojas is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily with the body in performance, using video, photography, installation, public interventions, and sculpture. As a queer, Latinx immigrant with Indigenous heritage, it is essential to his practice to uncover, investigate, and make visible and audible undervalued or disparaged sites of knowledge. He utilizes his body in a political and critical way, as an instrument to unearth removed traumas, embodied forms of decolonization, migration, and poetics of space. His research-based practice is heavily influenced by queer and feminist archives, border politics, botanical colonialism, and defaced monuments.
He holds an M.F.A. in Performance from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.F.A. in Film from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada. He is currently a visiting professor at Cornell University in the School of Art, Architecture and Planning. His traveling survey exhibition “Tracing A Wound Through My Body,” accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, is currently exhibited in its third iteration at the Usdan Gallery at Bennington College in Vermont. It will also travel to SECCA, North Carolina, and Artspace, New Heaven.
About Katiushka Melo
Katiushka Melo is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, born in New York and raised by Chilean parents. Her work often addresses the challenging questions about the role and representation of women in modern society. She gathers historical artifacts from other women, incorporating them into her performance practice. She finds meaning in the daily rituals of different cultures, collaborating with woman from different tribes and breaking bread in order to understand cultures distant from her own.
Melo’s work dissects issues of gender identity and beauty ideals as well as challenging the domestic roles of women in modern society. Her work creates a space for contemplation, whilst her own emphasis on physical endurance provides a backdrop for more visceral understanding of the body as material and its capabilities. Her work has been exhibited in the Americas, Europe and Asia, most recently at Miami Art Basel and a solo show at Veracruzana Cultural Center for the Arts in Mexico.
About Robert Smithson and “Double Nonsite, California and Nevada”
Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Robert Smithson (1938-1973) produced paintings, drawings, sculpture, earthworks, architectural scheme, films and video, photographs and slideworks, and writings.
In 1969, Smithson traveled to Chiapas and Yucatán, in Mexico, retracing the travels of writer John Lloyd Stephens. He believed he was impersonating the Aztec deity Tezcatlipoca, whom he claims spoke to him. After returning from his trip, he finished “Double Nonsite, California and Nevada” using obsidian from Truman Springs, Nevada. Obsidian is the rock that symbolizes Tezcatlipoca, or Smoking Mirror, an indigenous Mexican god of death, war, beauty, youth, and fatality.