Critics’ Picks

View of “Beatriz Cortez: Nomad World, ” 2016. From left: The Jukebox / La rocola, 2015–16; The Fortune Teller (Migrant Edition) / La máquina de la fortuna (edición migrante), 2015.

Los Angeles

Beatriz Cortez

Vincent Price Art Museum
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
September 24–January 28

I now carry in my wallet a receipt that reads, “When the future comes: We will have fought for economic justice / Cuando llegue el futuro: Habremos luchado por la justicia económica.” This carnival-amusement-like “fortune” was produced after pressing the button of The Fortune Teller (Migrant Edition) / La máquina de la fortuna (edición migrante), 2015, one of the four conceptually precise works that make up Beatriz Cortez’s solo presentation at this museum. Culled from the experiences and words of a group of collaborators, all immigrants, Cortez’s fortunes are invocations for collective action, opposed to a newly ossified fate.

The figure of the nomad, incarnated in the current political climate as the immigrant, is central to each of the works here. In The Beast / La bestia, 2015, a repurposed pinball machine dramatizes the journey of an immigrant crossing Mexico’s northern border, wherein the silver ball encounters the US ICE, the Minutemen, and Cesar Chavez’s “wet line.” Lights sometimes flash in this game, but the ca-chunk of the bumpers and the high-pitched ringing of bells are absent here—producing notable silences. Elsewhere, viewers can pose for a photo booth in front of backgrounds of Central American rural and urban landscapes—The Photo Booth / La cabina de fotos, 2015–16—or choose from a custom jukebox filled with sounds as banal as “Rain” or as weighty as a “Burial” in The Jukebox / La rocola, 2015–16.

When the future comes, tell me what we will have done. Tell me in (the aptly named) future perfect tense; the tense of Cortez’s fortune-telling machine—the tense of political aspiration.