CUE Foundation: Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, “Agua entre la metalurgia”
Location: New York, USA
Dates: 19 January – 25 February 2023
Curator: Alana Hernandez
Agua entre la metalurgia (Water in between metallurgy) is a solo exhibition by Carolina Aranibar-Fernández with curatorial mentorship from Alana Hernandez. The exhibition builds upon the artist’s ongoing practice that addresses the geopolitical concerns of exploitation. Through works that incorporate processes of etching, sewing, stitching, cutting, and printing, Aranibar-Fernández seeks to deconstruct complex movements of resources on a global scale.
Utilizing the language of maps, charts, and aerial topographies, Agua entre la metalurgia repositions seemingly neutral tools of knowledge and information that are often seeded with the biases of colonialism and imperialist power. Instead of rendering her works in pen and paper or vector and screen, Aranibar-Fernández constructs them with copper, sequins, silver thread, and embroidery, the latter repurposed from shawls worn by Aymara women in Bolivia, where she was born and raised. In materially referencing the dynamics of natural resource control and the invisible labor embedded in global trade, the works provoke a consideration of exploitation that simultaneously centers land, labor, and—crucially—people. “These works, at points disquieting in their glittering opulence,” writes exhibition mentor Alana Hernandez, “underscore the ongoing threat of colonization, genocide, and displacement faced by indigenous populations.”
Agua entre la metalurgia is Aranibar-Fernández’s first solo exhibition in New York City, and comes on the heels of a residency at the Phoenix-based CALA Alliance. There, she expanded upon previous works that trace the flows of trade through water, exploring routes such as those that brought the luminescent fabric flowers of her source material from South China through the Philippines to Bolivia. While in Phoenix, she also began to take note of the historiographies of copper mining in Arizona, reflecting upon the similar impacts of its economic extractivism—forced migration, oppression, and loss—on populations across South America. Agua entre la metalurgia presents new works that result from this layered reflection, as Aranibar-Fernández traces active mining sites and etches them onto copper plates with acid, each forming a unique thumbprint of destruction. In witnessing them corrode with the passage of time, we are invited to consider a key question: what scars will we allow to be burned into the earth…and onto our memory?
About the Artist
Carolina Aranibar-Fernández (b. 1990) is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia who currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA. Aranibar-Fernández’s practice addresses concerns of displacement, privatization of land, exploitation of natural resources, environmental issues, and the invisible labor that supplies global trade. In a range of installations and objects that interweave fabrics, oral storytelling, ceramics, and video, she uses hand-making processes and materials that draw from ancestral and contemporary craft. She explores materials as language—as non-verbal stories, allowing the language of soil, sugar, metals, and crude oil to be the storytellers.
Aranibar-Fernández’s installations, objects, and performances are informed by research into the histories of resource extraction and the oppressive labor systems that have fueled the ideologies of colonization and capitalism, from slavery to mass incarceration. Her practice looks at visible and invisible borders, as well as the displacement of bodies across land and water as a result of the exploitation of resources and labor that corporate capitalism continues to profit from. Her work centers oral histories, ancestral ways of knowledge, and healing, and often offers participatory experiences for the viewer.
Aranibar-Fernández received an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. She has exhibited at the ASU Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona; the National Museum of Art, La Paz, Bolivia; The Albright Knox, Buffalo, New York; Praxis Gallery, New York; and the 2017 Kathmandu Triennale, Nepal. Aranibar-Fernández was a Race, Arts & Democracy Fellow at the Center of Study of Race, Arts, and Democracy at Arizona State University (2020–2021) and a Regional Resident for CALA Alliance in Phoenix, Arizona (2021). Other past fellowships and residencies include the Binational Arts Residency (2019–2020), the Projecting All Voices Fellowship at the Herberger Institute for Design, Arizona State University (2018–2019), and a Fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (2016–2017).
About the Mentor
Alana Hernandez is Executive Director & Curator of CALA Alliance (Celebración Artística de las Américas). As Executive Director, Hernandez fosters Latinx/e artistic talent in the Metro-Phoenix region and beyond. In her time at CALA Alliance, she has organized the exhibitions Carolina Aranibar-Fernández: El desplazamiento y las flores (2022) and Sam Frésquez: Second Place is the First Loser (2022). Her most recent exhibition, A pattern, a trace, a portrait: Four artists from CALA Alliance’s Residency Program, opens to the public at the ASU Art Museum in January 2023.
Hernandez has held curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Páramo, Guadalajara, Mexico; Hunter East Harlem, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Phoenix Art Museum; and BRIC Arts Media, Brooklyn. Her writing has appeared in MCASD.Digital (2021), HereIn Journal (2020), the exhibition catalogues Carolina Aranibar-Fernández: El desplazamiento y las flores (2022); Gabriel Rico: Unity in Variety (2021); John Rivas: Las Voces Inside Me (2020); Atlpan: Claudia Peña Salinas (2019); and Traveler Artists: Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (2015). She is a contributor and organizer of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: Handbook of the Collection (2021) and three-print volume, Grove Encyclopedia of Latin American Art and Architecture. Hernandez received an M.A. from CUNY Hunter College, where she specialized in Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art.