October 31, 2012

Melanie Smith in conversation with José Luis Barrios Lara

Hunter College
Melanie Smith, After Matta-Clark, 2010. Digital impression on cotton paper, 110 x 80 cm.

Artist Melanie Smith and critic José Luis Barrios Lara will speak about the roles of collaboration and media in their ongoing practices.

Mexico City-based artist Melanie Smith examines categories of avant-gardism and post-avant-gardism by making works that expand our vision of modernity. Asking what this means in Latin America, she presents formal investigations at a critical moment in modernity and late modernity. Her earliest pieces addressed the contradictory nature of these moments by concurrently displaying Mexico City’s violence and banality in photography, painting, and moving image. Smith has shown at MoMA PS1 in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo and the Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City. She has had individual exhibitions at Tate Britain (2006) in London and a traveling retrospective exhibition organized by the Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte (MUCA) in Mexico City in 2008, which traveled to the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Boston in 2009. She represented Mexico at the 54th Venice Biennale 2011 with the exhibition titled Cuadrado rojo, imposible rosa (Red Square, Impossible Rose).

Also based in Mexico City, the critic José Luis Barrios Lara researches aesthetics, art, and film. He currently directs the research project “Studies in Cultural Critique: Representation and Its Limits”, which explores the destablizing force of human emotions on systems of representation. Barrios Lara has authored eight books and over fifty articles, and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México, where he is a professor, and in the College of Philosophy at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. As a curator, he has organized exhibitions for the Museo Nacional de Arte, the Museo Universitario de Artes y Ciencias (MUCA), and the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), all in Mexico City. Most recently, he curated the exhibition Melanie Smith: Cuadrado rojo, imposible rosa (Red Square, Impossible Rose) for the Mexican pavilion at the 2011 Venice Bienniale.

This talk is presented as part of the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Visiting Artists and Critics program, which brings key figures from Latin America to Hunter College to address topics and scholarship in contemporary art via talks with students and the New York community. In addition to this forum, Cisneros Visiting Artists and Critics participate in studio visits and seminar discussions with Hunter MFA and MA students during their residencies.

For more information about Hunter College’s Department of Art and Art History and its initiatives supported by the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, go to


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