In her paintings, sculptures, performances, and installations, Camil draws inspiration from the inner-city landscape of her native Mexico City and from the history of modernism. Her projects expose the inherent problems as well as the latent possibilities within urban ruin, exploring what she refers to as the “aesthetization of failure.” For her Espectaculares series (2012–ongoing) she hand-dyes and stitches together fabric to create curtains inspired by the abandoned commercial billboards that are ubiquitous in Mexico City, transforming the remnants of a dysfunctional commercial culture into theatrical environments. Recent projects such as Entrecortinas: Abre, Jala, Corre (2014) expand the scope of her practice to incorporate ceramic vessels and structural elements that invite the viewer to navigate through the exhibition space and experience shifting viewpoints and juxtapositions.
At the New Museum, Camil will present a new sculptural installation created specifically for the Lobby Gallery. Inspired by the modular display systems used by vendors, the artist will create a succession of gridwall panels with built-on hooks, shelves, and other fixtures commonly intended for store display. Composed of grids, lines, and geometric shapes, the structure will form a volumetric drawing within the space of the gallery, referencing cheap commercial constructions as well as the serial patterning in paintings and sculptures made by Minimalist artists such as Sol LeWitt or Agnes Martin.
The title of the exhibition refers to the potlatch: a ceremonial gift-giving festival practiced by the Native American peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast, for whom it was a central system of wealth redistribution. For “A Pot for a Latch,” Camil will invite the public to participate in the ongoing creation of her piece, encouraging visitors to exchange their own unique items for others in the installation, thereby transforming the Lobby Gallery into a “shop” in which the monetary value of an object is supplanted by its personal history and significance.
The public is invited to exchange items on the following designated days:
Thursday December 17, 5–9 PM
During the first event, New Museum visitors will be able to swap their items for a limited edition sweatshirt designed by Pia Camil in collaboration with Lorena Vega.
On subsequent days, participants’ items will be exchanged for those items that are installed in the Lobby Gallery on that particular day.
Sunday February 7, 2–4 PM
Sunday February 21, 2–4 PM
Sunday March 6, 2–4 PM
Sunday March 20, 2–4 PM
Sunday April 3, 2–4 PM
“A Pot for a Latch” is an invitation to exchange.
The object you bring is a talisman of sorts, and it should be thought of in the same way that the ancient Romans conceived of in their term “res,” which denotes a gift that has both a personal value and a history. Bring objects of power, of aesthetic interest, and of poignancy. The monetary value of these items is insignificant; their value lies instead in their richness of meaning and in the new life that they acquire on the grid within the Lobby Gallery.
Potential exchange items may include: clothing, curtains, blankets, artwork, photographs, paintings, frames, nondescript items of undetermined function, objects that resemble parts of the human body such as wigs or mannequins, costume jewelry and accessories, mirrors and reflective items, potted plants, posters, colorful items and/or those with interesting shapes and forms, transparent materials such as shower curtains, lingerie, or X-rays, magazines, books, and trinkets.
Prohibited exchange items include but are not limited to: Electronics, heavy items (over twenty pounds), small-scale objects (less than six inches in diameter), food or other perishables, weapons, and chemicals or other hazardous materials.
Objects accepted for exchange will not be returned to the submitting party.
Pia Camil was born in 1980 in Mexico City, where she continues to live and work. She has exhibited internationally at venues including Frieze Projects, New York (2015); Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough, England (2015); Saatchi Gallery, London (2015); Biennial of the Americas, Denver Colorado (2013); and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2011). Her recent solo presentations include “The Little Dog Laughed,” Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2014); “Entrecortinas: Abre, Jala, Corre,” Galería OMR, Mexico City (2014); “Espectacular Telón,” Galerie Sultana, Paris (2013); and “Cuadrado Negro,” Artium Basque Centre-Museum of Contemporary Art, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2013). Camil’s exhibition “Skins” is currently on view at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, through March 13, 2016.
The exhibition is curated by Margot Norton, Associate Curator.