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Performance at Pari Nadimi Gallery

Sin Island

through–July 24, 2009

For his first exhibition at Pari Nadimi Gallery Romeo Gongora will present a new series of work entitled Sin Island.  Here, in his most significant installations to date, the Berlin-based Canadian/Guatemalan artist includes photographs, sculptures, silkscreen, sound and performance, inspired by Amsterdam late nineteenth century archival visual documents.

The installation brings together animals made of “papier-maché” performing seven “tableaux vivants” (living pictures) inspired by “The fall of Sin Island”, an 1894 theater play by August Mahieu, never performed, recalling Lombok’s military expedition. Gongora has used Cjakranegara Marsch (1894), a military march celebrating the expedition, as sound for the performance.  The exhibition also includes 7 photographs depicting the 7 tableaux-vivants.  Gongora’s installation addresses issues related to the West’s colonial ambitions and engages with New Imperialism, a controversial moment of Western history. Hence, it questions the functions that exoticism and authenticity still play today, highlighting how the political and the particular intertwine.

Gongora works with concepts of representation as they relate to emotion, language, and difference. His installations, photographs and video installations, show human beings confronted with situations that are loaded with emotions. The narrative generally originates in events that have been experienced by nonprofessional participants, now reliving these situations in the context of the work. Mourning, adolescence crisis, guilt related to felonies or adulteries, and incommunicability are among the topics previously addressed. 

Gongora’s completed a Master of Arts degree in visual and media art at UQAM (2005). His work has been featured in solo exhibitions organized by the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2009); Dazibao, Montreal (2007); Gallery 44, Toronto (2006); Optica, Montreal (2006); and Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal (2005). His artwork has been included in several group exhibitions internationally, including : the Québec Triennial, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2008); Centre Culturel de Rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxemburg (2006); Habiter, VU Centre de diffusion de la photographie, Quebec (2006); and Espaces Affectifs, Musée régional de Rimouski, Quebec (2005). His videos have been screened in several festivals, including the 10th Istanbul Biennial (2007). Gongora has participated in several residencies at institutions, including: Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2008–9); Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam (2007–8); PRIM, centre de creation et de recherche en arts médiatiques, Montreal (2006–7), Centre Culturel de Rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg (2006); and Centro de la Imagen, FONCA, Mexico City (2006).

The project has been carried out in collaboration with the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam Artis Zoo (Natura Artis Magistra), KITLV, Tropenmuseum (Royal Tropical Institute), Museum Bronbeek (KTOMMB), Conservatorium van Amsterdam and support of the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec. 

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