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Emerging Latino Artists Illustrate 'Close Distance' Between Cultures

A new show at the BCA's Mills Gallery reaches for conceptual highs.

Furthering the notion that visual art transcends cultural and linguistic barriers, “Close Distance” at the covers an immense terrain of universally applicable topics despite the show’s Latin origins.

Practicing across “diverse media and national borders,” the show features work from a half-dozen emerging Boston-area Latino artists via paint, video/film, installations, performance and more. “Close Distance” opened on July 15 and runs through August 28 with a Families Connect Workshop on July 31, a joint artist/curator talk on August 3 and a special performance piece on August 17. All aspects of the show are free and open to the public.

Curator Liz Munsell described the artists involved as “long-established and notable members of local arts communities who’ve greatly enriched the cultural milieu of Boston as artists, teachers and curators."

Much of the work in “Close Distance” reaches for conceptual highs, from Daniela Rivera’s “Fatiga material,” which imagines a painting’s end through the literal collapse of the gallery space to Vela Phelan’s “Deviant Idols in the Black Divine,” which utilizes three mediums in a quest to discover new forms of deities and idols in our complex modern world. Anabel Vazquez Rodriguez employs a more autobiographical viewpoint for “Vision Double,” which uses a mix of film reels and video to examine feminist ideals and activism.

Other work covers issues of dual-citizenship (Raul Gonzalez), racial segregation (Ricardo De Lima) and the Mexican revolution (Dave Ortega).

The performance piece on August 17 is likely to be eye-opening: known for their intriguing and potentially disorienting "guerilla tactics," artists Yassy Goldie and Bru Jo will take on issues of cultural identity.

Munsell, an MFA Curatorial Research Associate in Contemporary Art and an independent curator with Discordia Films reveals the show’s through-line is what might best be described as "worlds in-between."

“It alludes to [the artists’] relationships with their respective places of origin which informs their contributions to the present day, while also implying pertinence to a place that’s neither here nor there – an in-between state or perceptual borderland," she said.

Artist Maria Guest’s triptych of video installations, “SABADO / IN BETWEEN / DOMINGO,” gets at the heart of perceptual borders by exploring the properties of public domain space, looking for moments of intimacy contrasted with the notion of being "in public." The series includes violin accompaniment.

“Close Distance” at the BCA’s Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont Street (next to Hamersley’s Bistro) is open from noon to 5 p.m on Wednesday and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Artist and Curator Talk, Wednesday, August 3 from 6 to 9 p.m.; Performance with Artists Yassy Goldie and Bru Jø, Wednesday, August 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.; Families Connect, Sunday, July 31, 1–2:30 p.m. & 3 to 4:30 p.m.

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