We are thrilled to announce that Juana Valdes‘ “An Inherent View of the World” has been purchased by the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, FL. This installation was on exhibit at the gallery October 23–December 11, 2015. Please join us in congratulating Juana, and read more about her work below. Mindy Solomon Gallery will be featuring a solo exhibition of Juana’s work at Zona Maco in Mexico City, where she continues to explore the idea of object as metaphor for history and identity.
Multi-media installation artist Juana Valdes uses her training in Western post-modern philosophy, printmaking, photography, sculpture and ceramics to explore issues of transculturation, pigmentocracy, history and memory. In the past, Valdes worked with maps, ships and sailing motifs to investigate the complexities of identity in the face of shifting national/political borders as well as the history of human migration. More recently, Valdes began working with bone china porcelain, traditionally distinguished and valued for its whiteness and translucency and documented as an important commodity in the history of trade between Europe and Asia. By inserting pigments during fabrication into the clay and manipulating its chemical composition, Valdes created artworks which serve as metaphors for the mythology of whiteness in our society. In the current project on view, Valdes encourages us to ponder the history of global trade and colonialism by presenting a monumental installation of vintage china and domestic wares she has collected from antiques shops, flea markets and estate sales/auctions.
The business of selling and trading china has been intrinsically tied to European
overseas expeditions and transmigrations, and the first public company to issue
negotiable shares – and the model for many of today’s corporations – was a Dutch
trading company created in 1602 for selling china from Asia to European countries. The
Dutch East India Company’s hugely successful trade with Asian countries made the
Dutch a major global commercial trader and led to the formation of other trading
companies eager to participate in the highly profitable business. Over time, new
industries resulted when European companies began manufacturing domestic china and
many Asian companies likewise arose to produce china specifically for European export.
Valdes displays examples of china made in different countries and time periods, and
each piece embodies the cultural values of its time/place, reflecting aesthetic and
economic decisions made by the manufacturer and by consumers. Not to be forgotten in
this economic chain of activities is the woman who purchased these domestic wares to
be used by her family, and Valdes invites us to think about how the design and
decorative patterns on plates, cups and other pieces of china often provided children in
these households with their first aesthetic experience.
Not surprisingly, all this historic economic activity included constantly searching for
competitive business advantages, especially the advantage gained when entities can take
resources without paying for them. Colonialism, a natural offshoot of global trading, has
resulted in skewed racial relationships between lighter-skinned people and the darkerskinned
— with profound consequences that impact us today. By presenting this
Duchampian artwork created with the collection and arrangement of seemingly simple
domestic wares, Valdes offers us an opportunity to engage with and re-examine the
myriad issues available here: globalization, hybridization, economics, labor production,
cultural identity, migration, valuation, aesthetics, collecting, selling, women’s history and
even the possibilities of art.