El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files 2011

 

Showcasing Fabric of Art

Eric Wolfe
Irvin Morazán’s ‘Ghettoblaster/Musical Chair Performance.’

El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files 2011

El Museo del Barrio

1230 Fifth Ave., (212) 831-7272

Through Jan. 8

By LANCE ESPLUND Wall Street Journal

The “(S)” in this exhibition’s title stands for “Street,” and the show celebrates the “hood”—whether in East Harlem or El Salvador. Featuring the work of 75 Latino, Caribbean and Latin American emerging artists working in the greater New York area, its subjects encompass hip-hop, race, gender, politics, garbage, skateboards, cars, mass transit and the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. The urban environment is the catchall theme; but youth, pop culture (especially the glorification of graffiti) and strategies of appropriation, assemblage and insurrection are what bind these artists together.

Most of the work here is weak on concept and weaker on execution. Exceptions (in the area of execution) include Elena Wen’s quirky animation “Drop Dead” (2009), in which pedestrians die inventively in flower beds and on a city street, and the crocheted plastic bags of Antonia A. Perez. Typical of the show are Alberto Borea’s simplistic wall installation of a rainbow made out of hundreds of colored plastic shopping bags; Hatuey Ramos-Fermin’s trite “Transmit Transit” (2010), which consists of a chopped-off car roof and speakers blaring the sounds of a livery cab’s dispatch radio; and Lisa Iglesias’s flamboyant “Always and Forever” (2010), a giant nameplate necklace made of “scavenged” cardboard. “The (S) Files,” which strives for relevance at the expense of quality, hits the street with a splat.