Frieze Viewing Room
October 7 - 16, 2020
Focus: Curtis Talwst Santiago Infinity Series
Focus: Curtis Talwst Santiago Infinity Series
VIP Preview: October 7 - 8, 2020
Public Access: October 9 - 16, 2020
Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present new and recent sculptures by Canadian-Trinidadian artist Curtis Talwst Santiago. Our virtual exhibition is focused on his Infinity series, an ever-growing body of work that consists of carefully constructed miniature dioramas built within antique and reclaimed jewelry boxes.
Santiago began the Infinity series in 2007 as a way to unearth and critically address histories of migration and colonialism. Initially drawn to the antique jewelry boxes for their implicit associations with trade and wealth, he quickly realized the inherent functionality of the self-containing objects. Santiago leads a particularly nomadic lifestyle, working across the world in cities such as Munich, New York, Toronto, Lisbon, and Cape Town. These meticulously assembled scenes reference specific people, places, and histories gleaned along the way.
Upon encounter, the small yet cinematic tableaus create an intimate and slow exchange between viewer and object. When shown together, Santiago leads the audience from diorama to diorama through a series of compelling narratives. In this way he enacts the ancestral practice of storytelling in African and Caribbean culture - a form of resistance against dominant social, political, and cultural forces.
In addition to his dialogue with colonialism, Santiago culls inspiration from art history (with references spanning from 15th c. painting to his contemporaries, and artists such as Francisco Goya to Kerry James Marshall), music, fashion, pop-culture and current events. Works presented here poignantly address issues relating to police brutality, racial injustice, the COVID-19 pandemic, and pivotal moments of social upheaval experienced over the last decade. The new works also find space for joy and celebration through recreations of old family photographs. These works depict tender moments from the artist’s childhood and memories shared by his parents of time spent on the dance floor or at house parties with friends.
On a whole, the Infinity series participates in a timely conversation about cultural and geographical heritage. Santiago’s goal is to bring to light the absence of certain narratives and the presence of others in dominant culture, calling into question the means and production of our historical understanding and the lasting consequences of colonization.
The Infinity series is a seminal facet of Santiago’s practice and in recent years the dioramas have garnered substantial critical and curatorial attention. Works from this series have been included in a number of important exhibitions at venues such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, Perez Art Museum Miami, the Art Gallery of Ontario, SCAD Museum of Art, and the FLAG Art Foundation to name a few. In 2018 Santiago presented the largest grouping of dioramas to date as a part of Casa Tomada, the SITE Santa Fe Biennial. This instillation brought together over 40 works from the Infinity series, borrowing from collections around the world. A similar installation was mounted in September 2019, as a part of the inaugural Toronto Biennial. The Infinity series was also integral to Can’t I Alter, Santiago’s solo exhibition at The Drawing Center, New York which was open from February - September 2020. Though there was only one jewelry box piece included, the entire exhibition was built as a diorama come to life which visitors could walk through and immerse themselves in Santiago’s fantastical environment.
Curtis Talwst Santiago (b. 1979, Edmonton, Alberta) studied as an apprentice of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Santiago has exhibited internationally at venues such as The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY; The New Museum, New York, NY; The Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada; The Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; and the SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; among others. The artist was included in the inaugural 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art in Toronto, Canada, the SITE Santa Fe SITELines.2018 Biennial, Casa Tomada, in Santa Fe, NM, and was featured in the 2018 Biennale de Dakar in Dakar, Senegal. The artist's solo exhibition Can't I Alter, was on view at The Drawing Center, New York, from February - September 2020. His work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY. Santiago considers himself decentralized and lives and works between Munich, Germany, New York, NY, Lisbon, Portugal, and Toronto, CA.