Critics’ Picks

View of “Being Here with You/Estando acquí contigo: 42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana,” 2018.

View of “Being Here with You/Estando acquí contigo: 42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana,” 2018.

San Diego

“Being Here with You/Estando aquí contigo: 42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana”

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego | Downtown
1100 and 1001 Kettner Boulevard
September 20, 2018–February 3, 2019

In 1988, one hundred guests witnessed the wedding-cum-performance of artists Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Emily Hicks. Gomez-Pena, standing on the south side of the US-Mexico border, and Hicks, standing on the north, held hands across the barrier to dramatize the symbolic potential of such a union. Thirty years later, a similar spirit is evoked in this exhibition, which feels consequential and geographically specific in its pairing of a group of forty-two artists from both sides of the border.

Misael Diaz and Amy Sanchez Arteaga, based in Santa Ana and Tijuana and working together as Cog•nate Collective, designed Regresa a Mi/Come Back to Me, 2018, an installation of votive candles dedicated to migrants held at a detention center in San Diego. One votive’s silk-screened text relates a story of an asylum-seeker who did not meet a judge’s standard for refuge—the judge, it turns out, did not find his mannerisms sufficiently revealing of bisexuality. A prayer is legible on another: “I ask for healing of the physical and emotional wounds that mark those who have made journeys seeking compassion only to find cruelty.” Untitled (Stack for San Diego), 2018, by San Diegan Janelle Iglesias, is a precarious and unlikely tower that nearly reaches the museum’s ceiling and comprises terra-cotta pots and Styrofoam coolers, seashells, hand-blown glass, and tree branches. These and other found objects, which could have traveled south or north, seem to reflect the accumulation of various experiences—lining up, crossing over, working, resting, preparing, and, perhaps eventually, returning.