WOTY 3.1: Polos Opuestos
Curated by Arden Sherman, Director & Curator of Hunter East Harlem Gallery
The exhibition project, Word of the Year (WOTY), is now in its third iteration. For the first time, we have decided to include the word of the year from two sources: the United States-based Merriam Webster Dictionary, and our regular source, the Oxford English Dictionary. The 2018 words of the year are Toxic (Oxford) and Justice (Merriam).
For this exhibition, titled Polos Opuestos (English translation: Poles Apart), “opposition” is the driving conceptual framework, underlining the opposing ideas of the definition of the words of the year. Two video monitors have been installed on the WOTY wall, each one displaying video artwork.
Representing Justice, Javier Castro’s video, The Golden Age, shows the artist interviewing Cuban children about what they want to be when they grow up. Cuba is Castro’s homeland and his gesture of asking the simple question about the children’s dreams, the artist symbolizes the need for justice and freedom in a country where a dictatorship is still in power. Justice is more pertinent to Cubans now than ever, where the political climate is rapidly progressing, but for children who imagine a better future, justice is core to their identities.
The second video work, Miscommunication, by Groana Melendez, addresses the word Toxic. In her work, Melendez, a first-generation Dominican-American, is observed attempting to force a marriage between a stack of magnets. The magnets furiously repel each other and the artist is in constant battle with the opposition. Melendez’s work explores her own complex identity within a family fractured by emigration and a reality disrupted by toxicity: borders, harsh immigration conditions, and geographical barriers between loved ones.
Both pieces in WOTY: Polos Opuestos work in tandem to highlight the opposing nature of the words Justice and Toxic, while simultaneously inviting the viewer to make their own connections about current political landscapes, cultural localities, social circumstances, and the concerns of contemporary artists.