RICARDO HERNANDEZ: ILLEGAL
July 11 – July 31, 2015
Opening Reception – Saturday, July 11, 6PM
For immediate release
In "ILLEGAL", Ricardo Hernandez invites us to question what it means to be labeled Other, to be seen and considered less than, and exist on the fringes of society. Who gets to define these terms and how are they reflective of our constantly changing world?
This question only seems to beget more questions. Does the illegal condition allow for the exploitation of migrant workers? Why is the consumption of cannabis permitted in some countries but not others? Why is homosexuality considered illegal at all? Why is it illegal for indigenous activists to fight for the preservation of their customs?
For his show at NOVELLA, Hernandez searched the public records in various cities of his native Chile and found that in several cases those who lived on the margins—addicts, prostitutes, pimps, mules, activists, and illegal immigrants—had a higher risk of being abused and brutally murdered. Whether at the hands of racism, sexism, or ethnic violence, there were instances when the level of violence was so abhorrent dental records were needed to identify the bodies.
In an effort to humanize the victims while protecting their names and identities, Hernandez was able to gain access to their dental records and silkscreened the panoramic x-rays of their mouths. These transfer drawings are a palpable record that not only affirms their identities as outsiders, but also affirms that they once lived.
In addition to the drawings, there will also be paintings on view in which Hernandez used models. The artist appropriated classical paintings by Titan, Leonardo da Vinci, and Jan Van Eyck, among others, and inserted the faces of his models into these famed masterworks. The new paintings, which merge the classical with a resistance to everyday oppression, are an homage to the victims of these brutal crimes.