As do many in the United States, Francis Almendárez comes from a family of immigrant farm workers; his parents hail from Honduras and his grandparents are from El Salvador. In 2014, he traveled to Honduras to better connect with his origins and his family’s paths of migration. Upon his return, he realized the photographs and video he captured in Honduras primarily featured people working.
For rhythm and (p)leisure, he returned to and shot video and sound in northern and southern Honduras as well as in the mountains of El Salvador. For the project, he juxtaposes video portraits of people performing tasks of labor like farming, preparing tortillas, cleaning house, and constructing “Nike” soccer cleats with cultural productions like street dancing, singing, and playing music. He takes the visitor on a visual and aural tour of working-class labor at increasing speeds from the slower pace of the countryside to the hurried pace of a restaurant in the city.
With this presentation, Almendárez blurs the lines between work and leisure. Music and dance are usually considered to be entertainment but the creation, preservation, performance, and transmission of these cultural traditions is work itself. He sheds light on and elevates the value of both material and immaterial labor, and challenges the prevailing negative depictions of migrant, working-class, and queer people of color.
The piles of clothes atop the wooden pallets have each experienced their own global circulation from their various international origins, shipped to vendors, worn, and disposed. Their placement at the center of the gallery welcomes the viewer and offers up a place to sit or recline, but only for this brief moment in their existence before they are deinstalled to continue on their individual journeys. The circulation of both the pallets and clothes mirrors the circulation of people offering up their physical labor, and by extension, the circulation of culture and how it’s consumed, appropriated, repackaged, and resold.
This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue.
I am extremely grateful to all the participants, performers, collaborators, and assistants involved in this project, without whom this work would not be possible.
Participants and Performers
The Posada family of Cantón San Cristóbal, Ciudad Barrios, San Miguel, El Salvador
The Cantillano family of Barrio Sunseri, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Luis Reyes and the Reyes-Amador family of San Agustín, Namasigue, Choluteca, Honduras
The Rivera-Reyes family of Chinandega, Nicaragua
The tortilla makers from Mercado Guamilito, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
The street vendors along the highways of Honduras and El Salvador
The Garifuna musicians at Chuletas y Asados Elvis, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Ty’esha Lewis, Andrés Renteria and Jacqueline Posada
Collaborators and Assistants
Anthony Almendárez, Rosa King, Jacqueline Posada, Francis Almendárez Sr., Omar Reyes, and Pablo Marimba
Special thanks to Xavier Gilmore, Anthony Rundblade, Zaneta Taylor, Ashley Mireles, Olivia Hinojosa, Chris Castillo, and Leticia Rocha-Zivadinovic for your patience, support, and guidance in bringing my vision(s) into actuality. I truly appreciate your openness and trust throughout this entire process.
Thank you to Amber Jonas, Javier Gonzalez, Kat Cadena, Pam De La Mora, Bárbara Miñarro, Ana Fernandez, Asia Steeghs, Venus Prado, Ashley Mireles, Zaneta Taylor, Ethel Shipton, and Nate Cassie for all your clothes donations in residence with me for the time being before continuing on their individual paths of circulation. Thank you, Juana Córdova for cooking with me, joining me on my pallet hunts around San Antonio, and for being so open to talk with me about life and art. It’s been a wonderful time getting to know you and learning from you. Thank you, Isabelle for the lovely conversations about family and for being so bold and unapologetic with your work. You’re an inspiration and I feel very lucky to have crossed paths with you. Thank you Karina Aguilera Skvirsky and Riley Robinson for the informal studio visit on my “magic carpet” and for taking the risk and believing in me wholeheartedly from day one. I feel so honored and humbled for my time at Artpace and San Antonio and am truly grateful to Erin Murphy, Ray Ybarra, Scott Williams, Chris Breakell, Charlie Kitchen, Lisa Halff, and the whole staff and team of interns for always making me feel welcomed and at home during my time here.