Bright new exhibitions feature Mexican artists

The first exhibitions of the school year, “Notes on Anarchaeology. Forgery, Iconclasm, Displacement” and “Collection Focus: Mexico,” were unveiled in the Kresge and Pascal Galleries last month.

“Notes on Anarchaeology. Forgery, Iconclasm, Displacement” features work of varying media by four contemporary Mexican artists. The exhibition investigates how Western archaeology has perpetuated colonial and imperial violence by stealing pieces of Mesoamerican culture to put on display in museums. The artists each use vastly different mediums to convey this message. 

Papier-mâché replicas of ancient artifacts are Circe Irasema’s mode for challenging how museums typically display these artifacts. Carlos Martínez uses seven replicas he created of an ancient Etzatian-type clay figurine to similarly explore themes of ownership and forgery. Claudia Peña Salinas uses digital prints of stones that were removed from an archaeological site in Yucatán, Mexico to reframe tourism as looting. Ileana Moreno incorporates multiple mediums, including videos and oil and acrylic paintings, to explore the iconography of ancient cultures located within Central Mexico through feminist and pop culture lenses. 

“These projects formulate alternative approaches to engaging with the past and envisioning the future,” stated curator Paulina Ascencio Fuentes in the exhibition introduction. Ascencio Fuentes received the 2021 Ramapo Curatorial Prize, which is awarded each year to a second-year graduate student at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies, for this exhibition.

“Collection Focus: Mexico” features an amalgamation of Mexican art pieces that are drawn from several of Ramapo College’s collections, including the Selden Rodman Collection of Popular Arts, the Thompson Collection and the Morris/Svehla Collection. While a variety of mediums are present throughout the exhibition, what many of the works share is their bright displays of color and their vivid depictions of Mexican culture and life. 

“Collection Focus: Mexico” will be on display in the Pascal Gallery until Oct. 13 while “Notes on Anarchaeology. Forgery, Iconclasm, Displacement” will be available in the Kresge Gallery until Nov. 10.


Featured photo by Rebecca Gathercole