Exhibition explores the layered histories and tensions of West Texas

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Exhibition explores the layered histories and tensions of West Texas
Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas. Detail of Measuring the Immeasurable. 2020-22. Vintage and contemporary surveying tools and artifacts. Courtesy Visual Arts Center, The University of Texas at Austin. Photo: Sandy Carson.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art announces Projects: Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, on view in the Museum’s street-level gallery from June 18, 2022, through January 2, 2023. The multimedia works featured in this exhibition explore the complex histories and cultures present in the territory of Somi S’ek, the lands of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe commonly known as West Texas. Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas foreground the stories and voices—both human and non-human—that shape the landscape, and articulate the ways in which they have been historically affected by the built environment—from land privatization to the construction of dams, oil sites, and border walls. Originally commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, these works are the result of a lengthy research process that involved fieldwork in the region, with archival work at the University of Texas in Austin. Projects: Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas is organized by Anna Burckhardt, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.

A single channel film called The Teachings of the Hands (2020) is the focal point of the exhibition. The film recounts the region’s complex histories of colonial and environmental violence by weaving together archival footage, re-enactments, archaeological artifacts, and observations. Created in collaboration with Juan Mancias, chairman of the Carrizo/Comecrudo, who narrates the film, it documents the tribe’s relationship to their land and their struggles against ongoing forms of colonization. Caycedo and de Rozas focus on key locations across the state—the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis; the Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande; and the Permian Basin oil fields—highlighting the interconnected cultural, scientific, industrial, and sociopolitical forces in the region. A site-specific sculpture, Measuring the Immeasurable (2020–22), is also on view. Comprised of historical and contemporary surveying tools made to measure and map land, the work speaks to the ways in which land privatization in Texas has been achieved through surveying practices that transform complex territories into straight lines, numbers, and economic value. “Though mapping has been a way to construct knowledge and to understand places better, it is not a process that is free of guilt,” Caycedo and de Rozas have noted. “It has come hand in hand with other forms of violence.”

Accompanying these original works are four watercolors painted by Forrest and Lula Kirkland. In the 1930s, the Kirklands copied all of the major known ancient pictograph sites in West Texas, motivated by a desire to highlight and conserve their complexity. In certain cases, these reproductions are the only remaining evidence of some of the large murals across the Lower Pecos Canyonlands and the canyons and cliffs along the Rio Grande, after many were damaged due to private land ownership, as well as the harsh climate conditions resulting from natural erosion and the effects of the nearby Amistad Dam. Spanning millennia, these sacred paintings are evidence of the area’s Indigenous written languages, prophecies, and cosmologies.

Through their research-based, collaborative practice, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas underscore the importance of recognizing Indigenous knowledge and leadership in discussions around land. The works in this exhibition challenge the idea of the landscape as a flat and clearly delineated area that can be divided for profit, advocating instead for alternative geographies that center human beings’ connections to their surrounding environment and other species.

Carolina Caycedo (Colombia, born London 1978) lives and works in Los Angeles. She has had solo exhibitions at Baltic, Newcastle (2022); MCA Chicago (2021); Oxy Arts, Los Angeles (2021); ICA Boston (2020); Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland (2019); Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana (2019); Vincent Price Art Museum, East Los Angeles College (2019); Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga (2018); amongst others. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Sydney Biennal (2022); El Museo del Barrio Triennial (2021); ICA Richmond (2020); Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg (2020); TEA-Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (2020); 45 Salón Nacional de Artistas Colombia (2019); Chicago Architecture Biennial (2019); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019); MASP, São Paulo (2019); Royal Academy of Art, London (2019); Lille 3000, France (2019); MAMM, Medellin (2019); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2018); Disjecta, Portland (2018); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2018); among others. She is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards, including VIA Art Fund, Artist Direct Grant (2020); Betty Parsons Fellow, Art Matters (2020); Inaugural Borderlands Fellowship, Center for Imagination in the Borderlands, Arizona State University , and Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School, New York (2020); Wanlass Artist in Residency, Oxy Arts – Occidental College, Los Angeles (2020);/five Initiative, Artist in Residence, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (2018); Visual Artists Fellowship, California Community Foundation, Los Angeles (2017); Creative Capital Awardee (2015), among others.

David de Rozas (Spain, born 1979) lives and works in Los Angeles. His films have been screened in festivals and series worldwide, such as Visions du Réel (2018); True/False (2018); Sheffield Doc/Fest (2018); and Kassel DocFest (2018), among others. De Rozas is an Emmy-nominated and award-winning filmmaker who directed and produced GIVE, winning seven international awards, including Best Experimental at the Smithsonian African American Film Festival at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC (2018) and Best Short Documentary at FullFrame Film Festival (2019). He is the recipient of a VIA Art Fund, Artist Direct Grant (2020); the Flaherty Film Seminar Fellowship (2019); the McEvoy Family Award, San Francisco (2021); and a Visual Artists Fellowship, California Community Foundation, Los Angeles (2017). De Rozas was a 2021 Artist in Residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts, and is a lecturer at the San Francisco State University School of Cinema and California State University Northridge Department of Cinema and Television Arts.

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