Saturday, December 4

Spectacle Loves Curtis Santiago

Local artist Curtis Santiago has been doing some pretty radical stuff for a while now, even earning himself a sponsorship from Alain Mikli, the world renowned createur de lunettes.

Curtis has an upcoming show in Toronto's up and coming junction neighborhood and word on the street is that it centers around the famous "shutter shades" that Mikli created as well as the Ray Ban Wayfarer (you may have also heard of this frame)

Peep the flyer yo..........

And now a word from the artist in the form of his mission statement.........

When I was a kid, in the 1980s, my mother used to drag me to flea markets where I developed an obsession with Bossons wall masks or Bossons heads (the collectors’ term.) A series of hand-painted, high relief portraits, sculpted from gypsum plaster and produced between 1958 and 1982, the heads were eventually curated into groups and organized according to their various themes, hence: The Seafarers, The Europeans, Men of the Deserts, Dogs of Distinction, and so on.

One collector on Flickr’s group portrait reveals the almost nightmarish homogeneity imposed on such a heterogeneous group. A casual survey reveals an Arab, an First Nations chief, a poodle, a leprechaun, a Romany and a squinting pirate.

I longed to own the collection, as a child, and if I retain this nostalgic affection for the heads; I question their/the various Bossons artists’ perverse sense of exoticism.

As a Trinidadian-Canadian person growing up in a small, predominantly Caucasian suburb of Alberta, the Bossons aesthetic—kitsch racism, dismemberment, deranged otherness—repelled and fascinated me, and still does.

I have wall-mounted the heads also, but on partial walls, to suggest a violent reclamation of the objects from their original and imaginative site. I have added shades and grilles—the kind of hiphop accouterments that the young suburban girls and boys I knew would eventually adopt as a way of biting off mainstream hiphop.

By doing so, I am creating layered nostalgias, that do and do not belong to me.

The layers signify the complexity of my engagement with these artifacts, and question my place within popular culture’s representations of race and gender.

The masks (with their profound relation to European Modernist art’s appropriation of so-called "primitive" African masks; with these artists’ subsequent creation of astonishing hybridities) are ready mades that I have altered towards remembering myself as something other than—in this instance—disembodied and obscured.

Towards constructing myself, through the lenses of art and memory, as a whole person.

Thanks for keeping us in the loop Curtis, Spectacle Loves You