Opened September 15, 2017

Known for his figurative sculptures and totemic forms, sculptor Miguel Antonio Horn charts new artistic territory in Dissonance, his site-specific installation at Taller Puertorriqueño. Using shaped and unshaped found objects, plated planes, and recorded sound, Dissonance explores the boundaries of power and powerlessness, oppression and resistance.

Using mangled and misshapen pots and pans, he evokes the “cacerolazos” of Venezuela, protests in which citizens take to the streets and bang pots and pans in response to the crises currently gripping the country. The cacerolazos epitomize the public’s outcry, while the curved plated planes allude to the shields used by the police to subdue the crowds. Horn was inspired in part by similarities he perceived between the protests in Venezuela and news stories here in the United States about police brutality and their response to protesters with military hardware and tactics. The sound design, which was done in collaboration with the artist and musician Daniel de Jesús, gives the work resonance beyond its physical form.

Horn encourages visitors to walk through the installation and respond to the objects and environment. Unlike his other works, the spectator is enveloped by the work, including the evocative soundscape created by de Jesús. Visitors are even allowed to clang the pots with the kitchen utensils.

As an artist, Horn regards himself as an impartial observer who nonetheless is troubled by the increasing disparity between ordinary people and unyielding political systems that supposedly represent them. Fascinated by deterioration and decay as a means to delineate time and impermanence, Horn experiments with composition, scale, place, and the distortion of form and volume to create experiences that resonate with the viewer. Horn’s art-making process is intuitive and illustrates what he describes as his “essential search to communicate” and to “convey introspection and struggle.”

A native of the Philadelphia region, Miguel Antonio Horn has Colombian and Venezuelan roots. He received a certificate in 2006 from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and apprenticed for five years with Mexican artist Javier Marín. Horn has exhibited his large-format sculptures in the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Tamaulipas, Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, University of the Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and as part of the Vancouver Biennale. His public art commissions are on view throughout the Philadelphia area, Canada, and Mexico. He maintains a studio at the West Philadelphia artist-run workspace, Traction Company, where he organizes exhibitions and contributes to outreach and development. He is currently constructing a monumental sculpture, Contrafuerte, for Center City near the Reading Terminal Market and Convention Center as part of the Percent for Art Program.

Passion & Protest: Songs of Resistance
Diana Sáez and Friends
Saturday, October 28 at 7 pm

Connecting to Dissonance, Taller presents an intimate performance of passionate songs of protest from Spain and the Americas. Through their political commitment and powerful lyricism, artists such as Rafael Hernández, Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Caetano Veloso, and Joan Manuel Serrat created songs that are emblematic of struggles for freedom and social justice–both past and present. Performers Diana Sáez and Friends (Pável Urkiza, Suzzette Ortiz, and Christian Noguera) offer stirring contemporary renditions of these timeless classics.

This performance is part of Taller’s Diálogo Series, whose goal is to deepen our understanding of broader social issues of struggle, community, economic upheaval, and identity. Funding for Diálogo has been provided by a generous grant from PNC Arts Alive, a multi-year initiative of the PNC Foundation dedicated to supporting visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement in new and innovative ways.

1/27 -3/25/2017

Exhibition Album

Roxana Pérez-Méndez’s new installation at Taller Puertorriqueño draws on the history of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican community of Philadelphia. With research from Taller’s archives and other sources, Pérez-Méndez’s artwork wryly comments on the construction and perception of Puerto Rican identity. With Taller Puertorriqueño as the backdrop, her video productions incorporate imagery of Puerto Rican migration, Taíno ritual dances, and rural depictions of life and landscape.

The title of the exhibition is a reference to the Spanish saying, Quien a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra lo cobija. This translates to, “He who takes shelter under a great tree gets the best shade,” meaning those who benefit most in life are those who associate with something larger than themselves—in this case, the artist refers to Taller.

Some of her productions use a technique called “Pepper’s Ghost” to create a series of hologram-like illusions on dioramic scenes placed around the gallery. Scientist John Henry Pepper developed this technique in the mid-1800s using angled mirrors and reflective transparent surfaces. The method simulates a ghost-like hologram to the viewer.
Pérez-Méndez often uses the illusions in her installation work to merge the contemporary with the traditional, responding to the capricious nature of identity.

About the artist

Roxana Pérez-Méndez (b. 1976) is a video performance and installation artist who creates work about the arbitrary nature of contemporary identity through the lens of her own experiences as a Puerto Rican woman.Pérez-Méndez is based in Philadelphia and has exhibited widely including but not limited to the Universidad de Sagrado Corazón (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Taller Puertoriqueño, (Philadelphia), Times Museum (Guangzhou, China), the North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC), the Morris Gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia), the Elizabeth Foundation of the Arts (NY, NY), the Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA), the Fleisher-Ollman Gallery (Philadelphia). She was a finalist for both the Joan Mitchell Award and the Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2006. As a Philadelphia based artist, she is also an artist/member of the collective Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia from 2005 to 2013. Pérez-Méndez received her BFA from The Ohio State University, her MFA from the Tyler School of Art and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2003.

*Pictured at the top, Roxana Pérez-Méndez, Finca Del Guaraguao, 2017 (detail)