En Funcion del Interes Nacional (2022)
collaboration with Mariana Parisca
“En Funcion del Interes Nacional” (In Function of National Interest) is a series of six multimedia wall works with accompanying performances. The screen-printed surfaces depict iconic logos from Venezuelan companies that were expropriated during the regime of the former president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro. Through the works, we consider the way that products and their branding are an integral part of Venezuelan identity as it has been built over the past few decades. Through the use of cardboard, we make reference to the distribution of products, particularly to the way many of these Venezuelan goods are no longer made in Venezuela and many Venezuelans travel to other countries to find traditionally Venezuelan products.
Juxtaposed on the screen printed logos are laser cutouts of images of Simon Bolivar, known as the liberator. The images are taken from Venezuelan currency called the Bolívar Fuerte which has reached record-breaking high levels of inflation. Seen as a series, racialized differences in the representations of Simon Bolivar become apparent. His image and association with liberty are used as a political tool for garnering support. Various multimedia components including LED taxi/rideshare lights reading “libre” (free), and found video clips including the exhumation of Simon Bolivar's remains can be seen through the cutouts in the cardboard.
Through their various layers, the works draw connections between the use of the notion of liberty as a political tool from the colonial times of Simon Bolivar all the way to contemporary times of globalized neoliberal markets and economies. They ask audiences to consider the meaning of and access to liberty and authoritarianism across political spectrums.
These works emerged through conversations between the two artists about their experiences living abroad and their relationships to Venezuelan identity. They were realized in collaboration, mostly working remotely. As the work materializes, both artists will activate parts of the work in different locations throughout 2022. Parisca is an interdisciplinary visual artist who immigrated to the USA from Venezuela. Through a decolonial feminist approach, she creates performances, sculptures, installations, videos, and printed matter that question and redefine the social abstractions that shape value, resource distribution, and consumption in the Americas. Vasquez La Roche is a visual artist that resides in Trinidad and Tobago. His practice is interested in aspects of the transatlantic slave trade that repeat themselves in varying ways in the present. An essential part of the research is an inquiry regarding material. He employs these materials to articulate aspects of race, identity, culture, politics, and spirituality.
Photos by Jenica Heintzelman.