Selenas Mountain is pleased to present Rebel Irreverence,
a solo exhibition by New York based artist Tamara Santibañez. Due to the unique circumstances of the pandemic, Selenas Mountain invited the artist to utilize the gallery as their studio for two months leading up to the exhibition. This is the gallery’s first physical exhibition since temporarily shutting our doors in the Spring. Known for their abstract leather landscape oil paintings, Santibañez’s studio practice has blossomed into a multi-media oeuvre employing their own unique language and symbolism. For this exhibition the artist has created a body of work spanning painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, and leather work.
In the book “Subculture: the Meaning of Style,” author Dick Hebdige presents a semiotic analysis of punk which describes the function of subculture as being a metaphorical resistance to hegemony. With a similar anti-authoritarian and semiotic lens, Tamara Santibañez creates bold artwork that carries a unique visual vocabulary. The artist juxtaposes subcultural signifiers with traditional fine arts and craft techniques. In each work is a subtle or hidden metaphor for rebellion. *The title for the exhibition “Rebel Irreverence” is a reference to a powerful line in a Zapatista communique which sheds a hopeful light on the act of revolution.
Recalling the work of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, Santibañez explores the art-historical depiction of the Calla Lilly. Often seen in Rivera’s murals carried by faceless female figures crushed by large bundles of this flower. The artist’s representation of the flower describes class oppression and a whisper of revolution, a subtle call to arms. Depicted in both their painting and ceramics, Santibañez explores the symbolism of the Calla Lilly in contemplation of the labor of revolution—the practical work that must be done for revolutionary change—and who bears the burden of that labor.
Santibañez further explores the symbiosis between labor and revolution in their replications of traditional talavera Mexican pottery. The artist pairs traditional techniques and motifs with a more modern contemporary punk, fetish style. The result is a collection of objects that are charmingly defiant and anachronistic. The works speak to the value of the labor of the crafts-person and the championing of personal liberty while also exploring a quest for queer utopias and queer futurism.
Working more overtly with metal and punk imagery, the leatherwork pieces by Santibañez have a relic-like quality to them. They carry both gracefulness and hardness. The visual language of metal band t-shirts and back patches is engraved in monochromatic tooled leather. The primal aura of these works references both the collective in ancient cultures and the pack mentality of contemporary subcultural alliances.
*“The international of hope. Not the bureaucracy of hope, not the opposite image and, thus, the same as that which annihilates us. Not the power with a new sign or new clothing. A breath like this, the breath of dignity. A flower yes, the flower of hope. A song yes, the song of life.
Dignity is that nation without nationality, that rainbow that is also a bridge, that murmur of the heart no matter what blood lives it, that rebel irreverence that mocks borders, customs and wars.
Hope is that rejection of conformity and defeat.” —EZLN, First Declaration of La Realidad for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, 1996
Tamara Santibañez (b. 1987) is a multimedia artist living and working in Brooklyn. Their work is rooted in subcultural semiotics, exploring the meanings we assign to materials and accessories. Enlisting inanimate objects as stand-ins for human figures and relationships, Santibañez emphasizes the undulating exchange between power and vulnerability, otherness and assimilation, generational expectations and individual capability.
In 2019 Santibañez was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and was a recipient of the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation Grant. Their work has been exhibited at JTT Gallery, Andrew Edlin Gallery, the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago, and in performance at MoMA PS1, among others. They are the founding editor of New York-based independent publishing house Discipline Press and editor of the 2018 anthology Sexiness: Rituals, Revisions, and Reconstructions (Sang Bleu/Discipline Press).
They bring their experience in community organizing to their creative and tattooing work, visualizing tattooing as a transformative practice, a space for healing, and as a vehicle for resistance to mechanisms of oppression.
Public Health & Safety
In light of recent developments regarding public health and the outbreak of COVID-19, the gallery will limit up to 6 visitors maximum upon entry. Please note all visitors are expected to wear a mask and practice social distancing in the space. If you would like to make a reservation to ensure your entry for the opening on October 25 please send an email with your contact information. For the duration of this exhibition the gallery will not hold regular open hours, but will be open by appointment. We look forward to welcoming you back to the gallery.
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @selenasmountain on instagram.