August 22, 2017

Las Hermanas Iglesias

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Courtesy of Las Hermanas Iglesias.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) presents the first exhibition in its ACME Lab, a new space dedicated to community engagement and art experimentation in the Museum’s Emma Eccles Jones Education Center. Las Hermanas Iglesias: HERE, HERE is an interactive installation in which visitors transform and contribute to a work of art in progress.

Consisting of 2- and 3-D elements that function and overlap as costumes, backdrops, pedestals, stages, props, sculptures, paintings, and drawings, the exhibition is intended to be moved, touched, arranged, worn, and interacted with. Emphasizing the performative nature of objects and the body’s formal potential, the installation encourages physical engagement and new ways of thinking, transforming museum-goers into museum-doers.

The objects, in a black and white palette, suggest functionality and yet resist categorization through their layered construction and infinite potential for arrangement. As familiar, simple shapes they are still strangely hard to place in a particular context. The maker’s touch is highlighted by the objects’ imperfections and evidenced in the hand-drawn patterns informed by popular games. Together the objects create a visual playground that fuses social participation with artistic expression. The artists’ own voice becomes just one of many participating in and shaping the installation.

Central to the project, Las Hermanas created an open-source framework, an expansive User’s Guide to share community-sourced “scores” of what might happen in the space. Grounded in the history of conceptual practices attributed to the Fluxus movement and following the lead of artists such as Yoko Ono, Lygia Clark, and Alison Knowles, among others, visitors are encouraged to rewrite the script and reconsider what is possible. Photo and video documentation becomes part of the project, as participants are encouraged to document their experiences on social media in addition to detailing their CREATIVE ACTIONS in the User’s Guide. By exploring ideas authored by others, or making their own rules of engagement, ACME Lab visitors upend conventional museum etiquette, blur lines of authorship, and open up ways to reimagine the rules. An integral component is the project’s directed outreach to local communities, who are invited to activate the installation for their own ideas, events, and gatherings through group CREATIVE ACTIONS.

As ACME Lab’s inaugural project, HERE, HERE is a six-month long experiment in which the artists and ACME team consider how art/exhibition making can be more democratic and radically inclusive. In constant flux, the installation can be reimagined by anyone, and thus the work belongs to everyone. In this spirit, Las Hermanas shape HERE, HERE and their artistic practice as a whole with both material and social mark-making.

Las Hermanas Iglesias are Lisa and Janelle Iglesias, sisters who have collaborated for more than ten years while maintaining distinct individual practices. Their individual and collaborative work has been shown in museums, galleries, and community-based spaces nationwide.

Las Hermanas Iglesias: HERE, HERE is curated by Annie Burbidge Ream, UMFA curator of education, in collaboration with Jorge Rojas, director of education and engagement, and Emily Izzo, ACME coordinator. ACME (Art. Community. Museum. Education.) is an outreach initiative dedicated to rethinking the public role of museums. The exhibition and ACME Lab is made possible, in part, by a generous gift from The JoAnne L. Shrontz Family Foundation.

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