Exhibition Iron Folklore, Launch Pad Artist Residency and Project program, Queens Museum of Art, New York, curated by Hitomi Iwasaki. May 10 - September 27, 2009
(Review by Rocio Aranda Alvarado, Artnexus, #75, 2009)
Iron Folklore is an extensive site-specific installation work by Johanna Unzueta as part of the QMA’s Launch Pad Artist Residency and Project program. Drawing from her recurrent interest in the history of labor, Unzueta creates sculptural and environmental installations often made exclusively of thick felt.
Iron Folklore occupies the museum’s elevator and the second floor balcony area with a subtle, yet powerful response to a socio-cultural narrative found in the gritty industrial area known as the “Iron Triangle” in Willets Point, within walking distance of the museum. The Iron Triangle has been the home of auto repair shops, scrap yards, waste processing sites, and similar small businesses since the 1950s, but its rich, if not sordid, history is soon to end with a new urban renewal plan. Transforming and connecting the spaces in the museum with shapes of industrial elements made of felt, Unzueta’s Iron Folklore addresses the contradictory notions of and the relationships between labor and culture in a local context.
Johanna Unzueta (b. 1974, Santiago, Chile) studied art at the Universidad Católica in Santiago and moved to New York City in early 2000, where she currently resides. She has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions including: The Skills, Visual Drugs, Zürich (2008); Algunas Bestias, Perros Negros, Mexico City (2007); Linea de Hormigas, A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro (2007); Johanna Unzueta, Thrust Projects, New York City (2007); Ora y Labora, Die Ecke Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago (2006); Trapped by Mutual Affection, a project by Galerie Christian Nagel, Miami (2005) and Cerberus, Planet 22, Geneva (2005).
Unzueta is a recipient of the FONDART grant, from the Chilean Ministry of Culture (1999 & 2004) and the DIRAC prize from the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2004 & 2008). To coincide with her upcoming exhibition at the Queens Museum of Art, her first monographic catalogue is soon to be published, which will include texts by Michele Faguet, Cecilia Brunson and Cristian Silva.