What does the future hold? Apocalypse or idyll? Robots or retro tech? Artists have asked that question for millennia and responded with wildly inventive, often provocative works. Fronteras del Futuro: Art In New Mexico And Beyond at the art museum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque brings several dozen cosmic possibilities together in one exciting, forward-focused exhibition. Encounter Culture host Charlotte Jusinski peers into this thoroughly modern future with Jadira Gurulé, the exhibit’s curator, and Augustine “Gus” Romero, one of its featured artists. They discuss what it means for people of color to interact with the science fiction genre and to finally see themselves in narratives that have long been dominated by white voices.
As one might expect, Fronteras del Futuro features its share of super-cool spaceship-like transport, beeping machinery, and alien figures from an arguably unnerving other world. Even so, the exhibit remains undeniably calm. That’s due to an emphasis on optimism, humanity, and justice for all. “It’s part of a movement towards social justice,” says Jadira. “[We] talk about the realities of our histories, the challenges of our present moment, and thinking about how we wanna do things differently in the future and making sure that a multitude of voices are represented in how we’re telling those stories.”
The complex, imaginative pieces on display confront prejudices aimed at “traditional” communities of color and racist perceptions that only white culture is associated with modernity and progress. Gus says futurism provides a free space in which Black and brown artists bust this ideology by melding modern technology with ancient wisdom, the personal and political, science and religion. Futurism also invites folks to question colonial notions of how art should look. “I often think about how we get informed on what art is, this whole formal [museum] experience,” he says, adding, “whereas before, you might be a little kid and everything in your backyard is an art piece.”
This is an ambitious and engaging exhibition. “I really can’t overstate how much there is going on,” says Jadira. “I didn’t wanna narrow the interpretation of any particular artwork to one theme because none of them are about just one theme.” Instead, Fronteras del Futuro imagines a future in which all things are possible and everyone is included.
Jadira Gurulé – Curator, Fronteras del Futuro, and Visual Arts Program Manager, National Hispanic Cultural Center
“Fantasy and speculative fiction really open up the possibilities because there are no limits to what you could create or think about or imagine.”
“While a lot of attention is being paid toward Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, and Chicanafuturism, it’s not necessarily new. So most of these genres go back for decades and have evolved over time.”
“It becomes this stereotype over and over again, which is that Black and brown people are this traditional thing and not necessarily thinking into the future, engaging with technology, all of these things.”
“This isn’t either/or a progression from tradition to contemporary moment; it is all of the things coexisting together.”
Augustine Romero – Artist, Fronteras del Futuro
“When we start creating these formal ideas on what art is, sometimes if you’re making art outside those parameters, it’s hard to fit into the art world.”
“The institutions themselves are the biggest gatekeepers, and they’re hard to get into. And what’s nice about this exhibition is it allows all these non-traditional elements to take place in a very contemporary idea.”
“I think we feel that art must be polished, pristine, under glass, whatever. I like things that look like they might be a little bit weathered like we are weathered.”
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Visit http://newmexicoculture.org for info about our museums, historic sites, virtual tours and more.
Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski, Editor at El Palacio Magazine
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer: Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Associate Editor: Helen King
Associate Producer: Alex Riegler
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
For more, visit podcast.nmculture.org.