It doesn’t seem like nine whole years since CIFO started its Grants and Commissions Program, which supports, promotes, then highlights mid-career and emerging artists from Latin America. This is a unique program, where chosen artists participate in creating art around a theme, come to Miami, and then have the program-specific work shown at the CIFO space for several months. While it is undoubtedly beneficial to the artists, it is also a great “exchange program” for Miami. Although often considered a Latin American capital, in fact Miami could be a lot more interactive, visually arts speaking, than it is.
“Not Me: Subject to Change” is this year’s title and theme, which loosely revolves around the body. The body physically moves us through life – it gives birth, it dances, it creates desire, it ages. The artists have worked this premise, in more literal and other times abstract ways.
This year, three artists make up the mid-career contingent, one from Mexico, and two originally from Cuba. One is familiar to Miami audiences, Glexis Novoa, now a Miami resident. His site-specific graphite drawings on walls are some of his best-known works, in black against white walls, depictions of sterile, cold city scapes, the emotionless visuals suggesting an emotionless authoritarian world. But for this show Novoa departs a bit, instead using a dancer with physical disabilities as the vehicle to ask questions of our current status and existence.
The title “Not Me” also invokes childlike responses – ‘that wasn’t me!’ Or, ‘that is no longer me!’ as a child passes into adulthood. A version of that is explored in the commissioned works, from eight artists in total, who aside from Mexico and Cuba, come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. And of course, “a political body” becomes a reference as well, such as with the pieces from Daniela Ortiz and Francisca Aninat.
Although not directly related to this Grants and Commission show that just opened, the furthering of dialogue between Miami and the world south of us is the purpose of this Friday’s talk at CIFO, with Alfredo Rivera. He’s currently a fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., but the evening’s discussion is about the 11th Havana Biennale. Started in 1984, this international event has loaded meaning for Miami – once an absolute taboo to attend, this year numerous Miami-based art aficionados could be found, including CIFO’s founder, Ella Fontanals Cisneros. Rivera will address this new – however tenuous – relationship with U.S., as well at the role of the all-so-powerful art market within the confines of the still socialist state.
“Night-talk With Alfredo Rivera” takes place on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. and “Not Me: Subject to Change” runs through Nov. 4 at CIFO, 1018 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-455-3333; www.cifo.org.