October 23, 2014

Javier Tapia & Camilo OntiverosTravelling Dust

18th Street Arts Center
Javier Tapia & Camilo Ontiveros, Travelling Dust research image (installation detail), 2014. Photo: Unknown photographer from Mexico, 1970s. Courtesy of the artists.

A collaborative project by 18th Street Art Center’s Visiting Artist in Residence Javier Tapia and LA-based artist Camilo Ontiveros, Travelling Dust unveils and rearticulates assumptions about cultural trade, geography, nature, and the people of three communities of the Americas: Chile, Mexico, and Los Angeles.

Concerned particularly with the economic and cultural trade between Latin America and the US, Tapia and Ontiveros investigate labor, informal economies, and migration from a multifaceted perspective, exploring themes of cultural adaptation, homeland, displacement, diaspora, borders, and minority status, speaking directly to Los Angeles and its communities as paradigmatic site of exchange. Travelling Dust uncovers alternative and hidden histories via film and installation, excavating differences and forging connections between Los Angeles and Latin America.

The project brings Chile, Mexico, and Los Angeles into conversation through the display of collected objects. The objects are exhibited on a custom-made sculptural platform, recreating a museum display. Considering questions of authenticity and origin, the installation includes original and archeological objects provided by pivotal collaborator, the San Gabriel’s Mission.

Part of the installation in 18th Street Arts Center‘s main gallery is a three-channel film offering insight into the complex web of relations and influences stretching between Latin America and the US. Through footage of interviews, portraits, discussions, parties, meetings, work sites, markets, schools, and landscapes, the film develops a visual and symbolic language through which to approach the relationship between the Americas. A departure from accepted modes of cultural reference and representation, Travelling Dust opens up new channels of thought and takes a renewed look at what these places mean to one another within the realities of geopolitics.

Born in Chile, Tapia now lives and works in Copenhagen. Javier Tapia’s multimedia work often deals with geopolitical themes related to his Chilean identity. Some of his relevant projects in the past few years are An Archeology of Motivations in Los Angeles (2012), Solid Liquids in Istanbul (2013), and Color Fields at Experimentarium Museum (2012), which was awarded the PaNIK Prize of Art. Tapia has also been present in important group exhibitions such as the Berlin Biennale (2012), the 9th Istanbul Biennale (2005), Art Brussels (2009), ALT CPH (2010), Charlottenborg Kunsthalle-Afgang (2010), and Nikolaj Kunsthalle (2013) in Copenhagen.

Camilo Ontiveros is visual artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. His practice often deals with issues of migration and the exchanges between Mexico and the Untied States. Born in Rosario, Mexico, Ontiveros received an MFA from UCLA in 2009 and a BA from UCSD in 2006. He is the co-founder of NOMART, a performance art space on wheels; co-founder of Lui Valezquez, an artist residency program in Tijuana; and co-founder of Imprenta, an alternative space in MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles. He was the 2010 recipient of the Illy Prize at ARCO Madrid and exhibited work in the 2010 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art.

Acknowledgements: This project is supported by the generosity of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Santa Monica Latino CAP Program, and the Danish Arts Council.


18th Street Arts Center is the largest continuous artist residency program in Southern California. Provoking public dialogue through contemporary art-making, we value art-making as an essential part of a vibrant, just and healthy society. Through our artist residencies we are a contemporary art hub that fosters inter-cultural collaboration and dialogue. 18th Street’s residencies, exhibitions, public events, talks, and publications encourage, showcase and support the creation of cutting-edge contemporary art and foster collaboration and interaction between artists locally, nationally and internationally.


Javier Tapia & Camilo Ontiveros at 18th Street Arts Center

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