The 1836 Project (Extended Widescreen Edition)

Michael Menchaca

In Residence: May 24 – Jul 15, 2021

Exhibition: Jul 15 – Sep 5, 2021

In a dark and immersive gallery, Michael Menchaca expands on the colonial fantasies of the Texas creation myth with their newest video work. Conceptually, The 1836 Project (Extended Widescreen Edition) digs deep into the histories of Texas to reframe conversations about race and identity. This exhibition has a timely resonance as the nation debates over the inclusion of critical race theory in schools and scholars work to dispel the myths surrounding historical figures and sites. Source materials include a research into technology, history, and popular culture, especially in relation to Texas. Stylistically, this work employs vivid colors, active layering, purposeful pacing, and use of familiar cultural images which convey the colonial and racist realities of Texas history.Inspired by primary sources of indigenous knowledge such as ancient Mesoamerican codices, the artist’s oeuvre is comprised of multi-media artworks which contain this contemporary visual vocabulary. During their residency at Artpace, Menchaca has developed their personal lexicon of icons to include figures and items culturally specific to Texas and has transformed symbols like the Alamo, the Stetson hat, and spurs into elements of a revisionary language. This animated video installation allows the viewer no pause from the realities of a flawed storytelling in the United States.The delivery of this art is through a five-channel video projection synchronized to play the animations throughout the entire installation. Accompanying the visual art is a deep rhythmic soundtrack created by the artist to mesmerize the viewer and create a space of somber contemplation. Underlying the conversation around the revisionist history of colonization and white supremacist tropes in popular culture is the significance of modern technology and its impact on people of color. Menchaca argues that “government agencies and Big Tech companies have constructed a digital caste system to maintain existing racial inequities in what Dr. Ruha Benjamin characterizes as ‘The New Jim Code’ era.” Mastery of digital technology with art turns the tables on the industries who monopolize our culture.The exhibition title is taken from the bill that Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed in early June called the “1836 Project” or House Bill 2497. The 1836 Project is meant to “promote patriotic education” but will likely be a continuation of whitewashing history and suppressing people of color. Historical reframing isn’t something that is a part of our past. It is an active attack happening right now in Texas and around the country. Artist Menchaca invites you to investigate your relationship with Texas and its complex history.

Download English Gallery Notesdescarga las notas de la galeria

Artpace’s Summer 2021 International Artist-in-Residence program is made possible with the support of the Linda Pace Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. Artpace is generously supported by the City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture, the John L Santikos Charitable Foundation of the San Antonio Area Foundation, the Brown Foundation, Inc., the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Harris & Eliza Kempner Fund.

Photo credit: Beth Devillier3D Tour: Chris Mills


Michael Menchaca

San Antonio, Texas, USA

San Antonio-based artist Michael Menchaca’s colorful illustrations and videos draw inspiration from pictorial history books of ancient Mesoamerica known as “codices” that traced history, religion, and geography through a codified symbolic language. Using this historical precedent, he creates a visual allegory to address sociopolitical issues surrounding the US-Mexican border. For Artpace’s Main Avenue windows, his multi-dimensional installation depicts self-sacrifice in homage to El Diedad del Queso, a rat god, and Aquilas, an eagle deity.

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Pilar Tompkins Rivas

Los Angeles, California, USA
Pilar Tompkins Rivas is the director of Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) at East Los Angeles College, a collecting institution with diverse holdings including Pre-Columbian, Native American, and modern and contemporary art. At VPAM she has spearheaded partnerships between the museum and the Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens. Prior to her appointment as director, she served as the coordinator of curatorial initiatives at LACMA, where she helped launch and co-directed two Mellon-funded programs for the museum: the UCLA-LACMA Art History Practicum Initiative and The Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. She has practiced as an independent curator since 2002 and was the director of residency programs at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.

Specializing in U.S. Latino and Latin American contemporary art, she has organized dozens of exhibitions throughout the United States, Colombia, Egypt, France, and Mexico. Among the exhibitions that she has curated or co-curated are Home – So Different, So Appealing (LACMA; the Museum of Fine Arts Houston), A Universal History of Infamy (LACMA), Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology (VPAM),Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943-2016 (VPAM), A Decolonial Atlas: Strategies in Contemporary Art of the Americas (VPAM; Tufts University Art Gallery; Union College; Oficina de Proyectos Culturales, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico; OFF Biennial Cairo, Egypt), Guadalupe Rosales: Echoes of a Collective Memory (VPAM), Patrick Martinez: America is For Dreamers (VPAM), ASCO and Friends: Exiled Portraits (Triangle France, Marseille), L.A. Xicano (LACMA; the UCLA Fowler Museum; the Autry National Center), and Vexing: Female Voices from East L.A. Punk (Claremont Museum of Art).
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