rhythm and (p)leisure

Francis Almendárez

In Residence: May 28 – Jul 22, 2019

Exhibition: Jul 18 – Sep 8, 2019

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.

Artist Acknowledgements

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.

Download Gallery Notes PDF for rhythm and (p)leisure

Download artist’s Addendum PDF for rhythm and (p)leisure


Francis Almendárez

Houston, TX

Francis Almendárez is an interdisciplinary artist who traverses the intersections of history, ethnography and the arts, using them as tools to address memory and trauma, specifically of migrant and queer bodies of Central American and Caribbean diasporas, in attempt to make sense of and re-construct identity. Being the product of a family of intergenerational migrants and having to frequently re-locate due to financial instability, he attempts to transform spatiotemporal dislocation and intersectionality into agency, resistance and autonomy by vocalizing and embodying the experiences of the marginalized, disenfranchised, or liminal Other. His work, ranging from video installation to performance and text, incorporates music and storytelling, and brings to the foreground time, labor and rhythm. Combining personal narratives with those of his grandmother, Almendárez uses the biographical to collapse and juxtapose past, present and future, subtly touching upon underlying, overlapping and recurring themes from postcolonialism to migrant labor to gender roles and motherhood. Working from the vantage point of both insider and outsider, he observes, he listens, and he collects. Then, he transforms the material from the personal to the political – and finally – to the poetic, in the effort to re-present and re-historicize alterity, and provide an alternative to the dominant Western narrative.
Almendárez has participated in national and international exhibitions and screenings including Nuestro Hogar: Francis Almendárez and Ana Fernandez, Jonathan Hopson Gallery, Houston, TX (2019); The Potential Wanderer, The Reading Room, Dallas, TX (2019); Voices of Our Mothers: Transcending Time and Distance, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX (2018); Sisyphus, Ver.20.18, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan (2018); Family Reunion, Pi Artworks, London, UK (2017); Videosubbota-2, CCI Fabrika, Moscow, Russia (2017); and Le Paradis, un peu plus loin, GALERIE DIX9, Paris, France (2017). Almendárez is the recipient of a Houston Artadia Award (2018), the Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship from the Houston Center for Photography (2018), and a participant of the ICA Moscow Summer School (2015). Almendárez received an MFA in Fine Art (with Distinction) from Goldsmiths, University of London (2016) and a BFA in Sculpture/New Genres from Otis College of Art and Design (2013). He was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and is currently living and working in Houston, TX.

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Karina Aguilera Skvirsky

New York, New York, USA / Easton, Pennsylvania, USA

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in photography, video and performance. Her work has been exhibited internationally in group and solo exhibitions. In 2015 she was awarded a Fulbright grant and a Jerome Foundation Grant to produce “The Perilous Journey of María Palacios,” a performance-based film that premiered in the 2016 Cuenca Biennale curated by Dan Cameron. In 2010 she participated in There is always a cup of sea for man to sail, the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), where she exhibited work from her project, Memories of Development.
Artist in Residence programs she has participated in include: Office Hours, at El museo del barrio, NY, NY; LMCC Workspace, NY, NY; MacDowell Residency, NH; Smackmellon, Brooklyn, NY and others.
Skvirsky is an Associate Professor of Art at Lafayette College, Easton, PA and an MFA faculty member at The New School, Parsons School of Design, NY, NY. She is represented by Ponce + Robles Gallery in Spain.

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