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2008 Lexus Grants for the Arts

Jason Mena, Language of the Spheres, 2001-2009, Mix Media, Variable Dimensions. Courtesy of the artist.

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, San Juan

July 10 - September 27, 2009

By Carla Acevedo Yates

Continuing their ongoing support for emerging visual artists in Puerto Rico, Lexus presented the winners of the 2008 Lexus Grants for the Arts at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in San Juan. The exhibition featured works from artists Jason Mena, Camilo Carrión and Denise Santiago Rodríguez. The yearly exhibition at the MAC has clearly become one of the most anticipated contemporary art shows on the island, showcasing contemporary art trends and emerging as the heartbeat of the island’s young artistic production.

From the moment the door was unlocked at the Lexus Gallery on opening night, the sounds from Jason Mena’s Language of the Spheres, a three-piece sound installation, drew the attention of most of the visitors. The work consists of three white fiberglass covered spheres emitting sounds based on the language Solresol, created by Francois Sudre in 1827. The three spheres speak to each other in random intervals of low frequencies based on the musical tonal scale. The language is visually represented through the vibration of a thin layer of water on the surface of the spheres. Mena comments that “this obscure language uses the combination of these tones to create words that communicate in an abstract way. If we knew the codes, we could decipher what the installation was telling us, therefore making the artwork actually speak.” More than visually representing sound through the vibration of water, Mena is appropriating language and manifesting alternative ways of communication that alter our perception of object, sound, space and time.

Camilo Carrión’s project “The Construction of the Everyday,” attempts to transpose the medium of engraving into contemporary artistic practice. A video, photo-collages and drawings on lint were displayed. Everyday scenes, objects and familiar images are represented, evoking a multiplicity of views on daily life. Carrión suggests that the project “subscribes to the questioning of the basic conditions that traditionally define engraving such as: register, support, permanence and repetition.” The work Approaches to Dust stood out for its collection of drawings on paper made out of lint which were taken from the artist’s dryer. Subject matter and medium converge as particles absorbed by clothes worn by the artist serve as the support to speak of the objects that surround his daily routine.

Denise Santiago Rodríguez presented a series of large-scale photographs entitled “Forget Me Not,” a journalistic approach to the elderly population in Puerto Rico. The images depict the actions of four elderly people in their daily routines. According to Santiago Rodríguez, the images are meant to “transport the viewer into current spaces and highlight the vitality, joviality and dedication of these characters, that despite their age, continue to maintain a positive attitude towards life.”

 Carla Acevedo Yates is a freelance writer based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College/Columbia University in Literature and Art, and pursued independent studies in photography in Paris.


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