Black Bodies-White Lies (2020)
K Contemporary Gallery, Denver, USA.
Opening Reception: Friday, August 7, 6-9 pm (Timed Entry)
The exhibition runs through September 12, 2020.
Performance: Saturday, August 8, 9-10 pm.
The performance will be broadcast live at locations throughout the city of Denver.
Performance powered by the Biennial of Americas in partnership with K Contemporary.
Denver, CO—K Contemporary is honored to announce an incredibly timely, thought-provoking, and groundbreaking exhibition and performance by an internationally acclaimed artist, Carlos Martiel.
Carlos Martiel (Havana, Cuba 1989) is a performance artist whose work provides intense criticism on the ethics of humanity, its history, and its behavior through provocative and raw performances that explore the nature of existence, social barriers, and cultural traditions.
At the heart of Martiel’s work are powerful performances that raise questions about the way various societies have treated ethnic minorities and outsiders throughout history. But these works also defy established values and draw attention to other pressing issues, such as the politically and culturally motivated censorship and persecution present in many countries across the globe, particularly in his native Cuba. To this end, he uses physical expressions that are evocative of rituals and ceremonial procedures.
Martiel’s solo exhibition, “Black Bodies – White Lies,” is a compilation of performances done previously by the artist in Buenos Aires at CCK, Denver for the Biennial of the Americas, and the last one in New York during his confinement for the pandemic and more precisely after George Floyd’s murder.
Martiel will be performing one day during the exhibition at K Contemporary; the title of the piece is “Third Person.”
The exhibition revisits the past to make us reflect on the current panorama of grieving the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and so many more people whose names we may never know. The murders of Black people have again risen to global and national attention, as has the centuries-long outrage in the United States. Tragically we grieve and protest under a seemingly impervious construct which is a social, economic, and legal system that supports racism, rooted in our collective history of genocide and enslavement.
Martiel wants to hold our gaze, to revitalize our attention, to the ongoing colonization, domination, slavery, and subjugation in our midst to this very day. These collective systems which devalue and denigrate the lives and souls of Black people and the most damning concepts written in universal history, are analyzed by the artist.
We know we must be part of the work to completely change racist, violent, and brutal systems. The changes come as protesters across the country continue to cry out for racial justice and accountability with a visceral force.
The performance “Third Person,” as part of “Black Bodies – White Lies” exhibition, is a social and political statement by Carlos Martiel.
“Race is a social construction, an idea with no biological foundation.” (Omi and Winant 1994 Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. 1994. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the1980s. New York: Routledge; Gossett 1997).
The construction of the “Black Body,” has been a social, scientific, psychological, and educational conceptualization. These racial ideas have been challenging humanity, human rights, and the inclusion of black persons into American society since its inception. The focal point will be Martiel’s body highlighting what is happening to the black body in our current society and emphasizing the physical and psychological violence done to black people through slavery, lynching and police brutality.
Martiel in “Third Person” will create a visual conversation about the contemporary understanding of a Black Body and the struggle to have inclusion, equality, and liberation. We should also connect that conversation with historical discourses, public policies, and devastating contexts, like African American education. The current Black Lives Matter movement is profoundly opening our perceptions to the social, economic, and environmental inequalities and violence that black communities encounter every day in this country.
The long ugly history of Black disenfranchisement and injustice is the history of American mental illness. For centuries this illness has corroded our collective wellbeing as a species, and it must be examined and neutralized to ensure the health and evolution of the American project. The intention of this curatorial project focusing on Carlos Martiel’s practice is that this art will help engender sociopolitical change within the community of Denver, Colorado.