Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla open their first major solo project in Russia

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Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla open their first major solo project in Russia
Allora & Calzadilla, Graft, 2019. Installation view, Garage Square, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow. Photo: Ivan Erofeev © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

MOSCOW.- The Puerto-Rico-based duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla are presenting their first major solo project in Russia as part of the Garage Square Commission series. Visitors to the park and the Museum have the unique opportunity to witness the phantom blooming of Roble Amarillo trees (Tabebuia chrysantha), a common native species in the Caribbean. Recreating the delicate yellow flowers of these tropical trees, thousands of artificial blossoms will remain scattered across Garage Square throughout the summer and winter as an enduring reminder of the increasingly rapid disappearance of the planet’s biodiversity.

Graft alludes directly to global climatic transformations. More frequent and violently destructive hurricanes in recent years have been the direct cause of millions of fallen trees in the Caribbean region. Rising global temperatures have added additional pressure to this biodiversity hotspot. The Caribbean, from the days of Christopher Columbus onward, has been systematically exploited and subsequently depleted of much of its original flora and fauna. While deforestation can certainly be said to be the primary legacy of colonialism in the Caribbean, this region, along with the 35 others worldwide named as hotspots (which amount to just 2.4% of the land surface of the earth) support nearly 60% of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.

By using an approach that is both poetic and scientific, Allora & Calzadilla create a boundary-transcending installation that provokes a subtle yet powerful visualization of the ecological crisis which we must all collectively confront. In Graft, tropical tree flowers, scattered under the trees on Garage square become phantoms of fallen trees from an elsewhere that haunt the place where they now are present. The uncanny way in which the blossoms appear as both plausible and out of place becomes a potent harbinger for the changing environments that we have created. At the same time the artists seem to insist, by way of this concrete example of a neo-colonial landscape, on the importance of giving visual form to the ways in which a global phenomenon such as climate change is manifest specifically in a particular place, magnifying historic inequalities and injustices.

Creating an experimental body of work since 1995, Allora & Calzadilla’s practice traces the intersections of history, material culture, and politics through a wide variety of mediums, namely performance, sculpture, sound, and video. Their formally unique artistic language is deeply informed by a critical and visionary approach toward meaning-making.

Allora & Calzadilla’s installation will resonate with the themes examined in The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100, an exhibition exploring important issues around environmentalism and ecology, which will take place at Garage from June 28 to December 1, 2019.

Curator: Snejana Krasteva

Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Havana) live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Solo exhibitions have taken place at Serpentine Gallery, London, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Haus derKunst, Munich, MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Castello de Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, MAXXI, Rome, Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Renaissance Society, Chicago, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and many other. Allora and Calzadilla represented the United States at the 54th Venice Biennial in 2011. In 2015, they made the site-specific installation Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), a Dia Art Foundation commission on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

The duo has participated in different international group shows including recently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2017); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Seoul (2017); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2016); Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong (2016); Long Museum, Shanghai (2015); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014). They have also participated in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel (2012); the 1st and 2nd Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art (2005, 2007); the 51st and 56th Venice Biennales (2005, 2015); the 5th, 7th, and 10th Gwangju Biennials (2004, 2008, 2014); the 24th and 29th São Paulo Biennials (1998, 2010), the 8th & 13th Sharjah Biennials (2007, 2017), and the 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York (2006).

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