Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena
September 11 - October 11, 2014
Artist talk: Sunday, September 21, 16.00
For his solo exhibition at Kinderhook & Caracas, Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberena presents a series of new works in which he, for the first time, uses his personal history as a point of departure.
Fabra Guemberena's mother was engaged in the urban guerilla activity against the regime in Uruguay during the 70's. The starting point of NOVIEMBRE is a letter from his mother to him in the format of a children's book that she created out of reused wrapping-paper while incarcerated in 1973. The book is presented within the exhibition in a direct relation with a larger collage titled El Gurrumino, 2014. “El Gurrumino” is the name of a lullaby Fabra Guemberena's mother used to sing him to sleep when the family had been forced into exile in Europe. The lullaby is translated in the large-scale collage-drawing, composed of pages from fashion-, design-, lifestyle- and pornographic magazines that has been heavily stained over by the use of felt-pen which are put together like a patchwork quilt measuring 400 x 550 cm.
The mother made no distinction between political battle-songs and traditional lullabies like the one about “El Coco” (the Boogeyman) taking children in the night. These songs became particularly relevant and terrifying during the era of military dictatorships in Latin America. The lullabies also had the power of bridging two separated worlds and momentarily erasing the harsh experience of exile. The six minute video Gladys, 2014, portrays the mother’s aunt, also singing a song, “The Daughter of Juan Simon”. While singing she goes through the process of trying to reconcile herself, approaching the agonizing emotions of death.
Fabra Guemberena has divided his life between Montevideo, where he was born and partially raised, and Stockholm, where he arrived as a refugee at the age of 8. The images of himself included in the show are the original photographs taken by the police in Sweden when arriving on a cold November day in 1979. NOVIEMBRE is a comprehensive term for this ongoing archeological/emotional project made up of different parts of history, fiction and geographical displacements. Through documents, collages, videos and sound it aims to retell a personal journey in progress.
Conflicts and contradictions are recurrent themes in Fabra Guemberena's body of work which has been exhibited extensively internationally, among others in the exhibition Delays and Revolutions at the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003; My Private Heroes Marta Herford Museum, 2006; Favored Nations, 5th Momentum Biennial, Moss, 2009; 1st Biennale of The Americas, Denver, 2013. He is currently based in Berlin and Stockholm.