yo soy aquí/i am here
September 23 - October 29, 2017
yo soy aquí / i am here was a collaborative exhibition that was the result of a nine-month conversation between the artists Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen deliberately playing with the Spanish language’s distinction between estar and ser as different understandings of the verb “to be”, Aguilera and Makonnen presented works in collage, objects, video, and multimedia installation that proposes an ontological, as well as a spatial exploration of our relationship to here (space + time).
In their exhibition yo soy aquí / i am here, Aguilera and Makonnen appropriated NASA images in order to connect what was originally meant as omnipotent documentation of our planet to a more holistic view of our “Spaceship Earth”, reminding us that we are all fellow passengers on this spinning rock, swinging through the solar system on a spiral arm of the Milky Way as it hurls through a starry universe. Pulling from history, physics, diasporic time travel and the dialogue between analogue and digital, Aguilera and Makonnen share with us the immigrant perspective: constant translation, multiple realities, colliding rocks making worlds — the stuff of creation, of an unfamiliar existence emerging from what used to be absolute. Reality is discrete, mutable and born of interaction.
Aguilera and Makonnen invite visitors to consider one’s existence as mobility. Rocks from space become planets, become us, become the screen of our smartphone. Once on Earth, these extra-terrestrial rocks —billion-year-old clocks — give birth to life, and are in turn changed by organic processes. An immigrant's perspective, like a page ripped from an atlas or an image from space, reveals a bigger here: multiple time frames, folds and cuts that form unexpected connections. Looking back at Earth from the perspective of a space traveler (a migrant from Earth) one realizes that I am where I am — soy donde estoy [aquí] — and I am here. We form the place where we are, and we are formed by it. Like the rocks (them) that fell from outer space (there) and birthed a planet, a process of tangible transformations and omnidirectional translations made us and here.
Glasstire, Top Five: October 26, 2017
Conflict of Interest, Q+A with Adrian Aguilera + Betelhem Makonnen