Sentimental Archeology, an Auto-Glorification Memorial, an interview with Artist Sofia Moreno

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Sofia Moreno is a multimedia artist whose practice is in constant flux, she moves though performance, video, sculpture and painting with fluidity and grace

it is my duty to defend my body and gender.
it is my duty to create art and allow the world to hear me.
never ending transition, never ending t r a n s i t i o n.
my body are the remains of a creature with human like features,
able to mutate and destroy if possible.
a combination between beauty and beast, with god like qualities
able to create, seduce and destroy

- Sofia Moreno

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All photos provided by Hans Gallery.
Installation View 1, HG Gallery, Sofia Moreno, Sentimental Archeology: an Auto-Glorification Memorial.

Sofia Moreno is a multimedia artist whose practice is in constant flux, she moves though performance, video, sculpture and painting with fluidity and grace. She was born and raised in Coahuila, Mexico and now lives and works in Mexico City. For nearly a decade, she was a constant in Chicago’s underground art world. She briefly attended The School of the Art Institute, ran S&S Project--an ongoing roving exhibition project-- and partook in dozens of collaborations with numerous artists in Chicago and around the world. Over the course of our friendship, I have seen her create bold and brave work in attempt to visualize and present ways for us to think about womanhood, sexuality, gender, sex, fantasy and fetishization of bodies, specifically women’s bodies, transgender bodies and brown bodies. Like the ancient goddesses as represented in figurines and statuary from around the world that symbolize both creation and destruction, Moreno’s work vacillates seamlessly between similar dualities. At times the work is beautifully unhinged, a stampede of rage wobbling in duct tape repaired heels to solemn statuesque equilibrium.  Sentimental Archeology, an Auto-Glorification Memorial, is currently on view at Hans Gallery in Chicago, IL. 

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Installation View 2, HG Gallery, Sofia Moreno, Sentimental Archeology: an Auto-Glorification Memorial.

Amanda Calobrisi: If you had to summarize your body of work into three words what would those words be?

Sofia Moreno: Painting New Realities

Amanda Calobrisi: I thought you would have said something about gender, sexuality or the body, or fantasy or fetishization. In the 10 years that I have known you, your studio practice has included drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, video and performance and it has all been a form of self-portraiture. The new show’s title suggests that the work on display is perhaps a digging through and looking back at yourself and also a memorial of sorts can you explain? 

Sofia Moreno: I am definitely still fascinated by sexuality, the body and fantasy and the powers that they all possess. The physical body as an image and the images as a footprint of our histories, it reveals so much of what and who we are. I’m also constantly questioning representation for some reason. I can’t escape it… Wow!  It’s been ten years since that crazy birthday party in my old studio?! 

This new body of work is definitely a memorial and a product of one year of isolation. It is a memorial to the trans femmes, we have lost at the hands of discrimination and violence. It is also a memorial to the soil we are standing on and a memorial to my past, that I hope to relearn. And also a memorial to my fractured relations. 

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Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli,2021, glove, used syringes, acrylic, resin, acrylic beads, and glass beads, 10 x 12 inches.

Amanda Calobrisi: In the show there are many sculptures on the walls and floor, in a wide variety of materials including resin, rubber, medical tubing, syringes, hair, glass beads, quart and paint. Many of these are performance objects-cum-sculpture. In other words, they are objects that have a history beyond the history of the making of it. They are at least partially ephemera from a past event. There is also a wall of drawings, “Objects of Desire”, with recognizable representations of gods and goddesses from Meso-American art. I recognize many of them specifically from a beloved trip to the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City. But these images that you have created are a curious homage, if they are that? What are some possible ways we can think about these images and your interventions- luxury lingerie, contemporary jewels- with these archaeological artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage? 

Sofia Moreno: The heels, syringes, synthetic hair, jewelry (beads), tubing were all once part of performances that happened between 2012-2019. Performance art is based on the physical and ephemeral plus the relation with the audience and here the essence of performance becomes the object on the wall, a physical documentation which traces the contact between me and the audience. The performance ephemera now sculptures are remixed and casted in resin and tubing is used as a decoration to give the object a new life form.

To me these exceptional stone and ceramic objects are the culmination of a long Mesoamerican tradition of working with stone or clay. The objects I drew in pencil and ink  for the exhibition are intervened  with new objects of desire such a lace bra, lipstick and jewelry. All  carefully rendered which to me represent such a deep connection between the ancient and the contemporary- the now. With supernatural powers and the divine these objects not only communicate the concepts of Aztec religion but also inform new ritualistic ways of being. The Objects of Desire drawings portray Aztec ideals of femme beauty, trans femme beauty and strength. Just as my trans community, many of these sculptures still exist despite the  massive destruction of our oppressor. To this date these idols and my presence are considered evil and unwelcome. 

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“Objects of Desire” (left to right), Coatlicue wearing my bra, Xipe Totec as an Amerikan gURL, Tlahuizalpantecuhtli wearing lipstick, Used syringe next to Cihuateotl, all 2021, ink, pencil and watercolor, 9 x 12 inches.

Amanda Calobrisi: You were a long-time resident of Chicago. How has returning to Mexico more permanently affected your work?

Sofia Moreno: Returning to Mexico definitely has changed my life and the way I work. When I first moved to CDMX I had truly lost that sense of belonging here which made it extra difficult to adapt. It took about six years to find and fit in with my own community, to the degree that I had in Chicago. I  lived  in the states half of my life. So, I had to start from 0, it was beyond challenging to rebuild new social networks and safety nets which for me are vital. I spent a lot of time  alone but it was a great time to have dates with myself in this monstrous city. I'm still having fun getting to know it.  I see myself adopting new daily rituals that have given more meaning to my life. Since moving to CDMX, I'm getting up earlier than ever before. Maybe due simply to not having curtains on my windows but it encouraged my switching from being a “party girl “ in Chicago to an early riser. And that has inspired MAJOR shifts in my life and studio practice. 

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Figural Installation of 3 artworks: Funeral Mask, rubber, synthetic hair, pearls ametis, acrylic beads, glass beads, resin, clay, 18 x 17inches , Breast Plate, cloth, pearls, sequins, synthetic fabric, used needles, rubber, clay and paint 18 x17 inches, and Sandals, rubber metal, amatis, glass beads, quartz, buckle, 14 x 9 inches, 2021.

Amanda Calobrisi: What is next? Are there upcoming shows or projects that you would like to mention?

Sofia Moreno: I was due to perform in Europe in September 2021, but as the pandemic is on-going it looks as if that will not be possible. Instead, I will be presenting some works on paper at List Art Fair Basel. In October, I'm presenting a series of performances at Participant Inc., curated by Laura Brown, in collaboration with HOUSING. This is another show that was pushed back from its original date in May. I’ve also had a few invitations to participate as guest lecturer and artist in Brazil, Mexico and Chicago as part of New York University's Hemispheric Institute. I’m definitely feeling busy and excited.

Sofia Moreno, Sentimental Archeology: an Auto-Glorification Memorial INFO

PeriodJuly 31 — August 28, 2021
URLhttps://www.hans-gallery.com
Address2000 West Carroll Ave, Chicago IL 60612
HoursBy appointment only, request a visit via email, direct message via instagram or by phone
Emailinfo@hans-gallery
Phone312-599-1810

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