Alex Strada

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching the present political moment as allegorical, my work aims to question the ways dominant historical narratives are cultivated and passed down. I spend extensive time conducting fieldwork in cultural sites and institutions to deconstruct the systems of power that generate collective historical memory. I research and gather existing material, which I examine, dismantle, and reimagine. This process results in video, photography, installation, and text-based works.

My current project, Save the Presidents, is a video and installation-based work I am making in collaboration with Tali Keren. The project focuses on the deterioration of 43 giant stone busts of former American presidents situated in a field in rural Virginia. The busts had belonged to a sculpture park which closed in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. A local farmer and entrepreneur was hired to destroy the busts after the park’s closing. He decided instead to preserve them, moving the sculptures onto his own property and worksite. During their transport and over time, the busts have eroded.

The film details the decaying materiality of the figures, such as the cracks in their faces and the discoloration of their white stone. Structured over the course of a day, the work begins with the presidents sitting drenched in morning sunlight as manual laborers arrive to the field for work. As the light wanes and the laborers leave, the presidents are left alone to watch the sunset fade to black. Their recognizable faces transform into Rorschach-like abstractions. The film explores the promise and instability of political representation and mythology, while raising questions about depictions of democracy, whiteness, and gender.

I spent two years researching and traveling to photograph miniature replicas of historically significant sites as part of windows on the world. The project considers the ways cultural narratives are reduced, recreated, and relayed by focusing on a theme park in Shenzhen, China, with reproductions of the world’s wonders and global monuments; Mini Israel, a miniature park outside of Jerusalem portraying a singular view of the contested landscape; and on appropriated cultural sites scattered around the U.S, such as Mount Rushmore of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The heterotopic photographs reveal sites of war, natural splendor, and cultural significance made absorbable, tame, and repeatable. The photographs aim to unveil the violence concealed by kitsch and to look at the miniature as a metaphor for nationalist pedagogy and colonial ideology.

Each image is paired with a soundtrack which is available to the viewer through an audio guide. The soundtracks create entry points into the photographs by asking viewers to focus on specific details or by providing a ‘historical’ or philosophical context in which to situate the work. As one listens, the tone, content, and accent of the narrator continually shift. The overarching narrative becomes abstracted, nonlinear, and often contradictory. The viewer is encouraged to synthesize their own narrative, and to question the mastery of the audio guide and the mechanisms by which institutional knowledge is constructed and conveyed.

My work is accompanied by a contract which mandates that any collector must sell the artwork after ten years. All accrued value must be reinvested in new work by an emerging female artist.

info@alexstrada.com
b. 1988 New York, New York

EDUCATION
2016 MFA, Visual Art, Columbia University School of the Arts, New York
2010 BA cum laude, Studio Art and Art History, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS
2017
Socrates Annual, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, New York (forthcoming)
There and Not There: (Im)possibility of a Monument, curated by Udi Edelman, 11th Kaunas Biennial, Kaunas, Lithuania
Save the Presidents, Museumsquartier, Vienna, Austria (screening)
Save the Presidents, Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, New York (screening)
In/visible, curated by haewooso, Korean Cultural Center, New York
Save the Presidents, Anthology Film Archives, New York (screening)
Austrian American Short Film Festival, curated by Stephanie Falkeis, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York (screening)
Against Competition / Towards Mutual Aid, Flux Factory, Queens, New York
2016
Lattice Work, Black & White Project Space, Brooklyn, New York
Finished Goods Warehouse, curated by Natalie Bell, Pfizer Factory, Brooklyn, New York
Columbia MFA Thesis Exhibition, curated by Regine Basha, Fisher Landau Center, Queens, New York
Sino-American, curated by Baoyang Chen, Javits Center, New York
2015
Fl0ating P0int, curated by Paddy Johnson, Judith Charles Gallery, New York
In Response: Repetition and Difference, Jewish Museum, New York
Columbia MFA First Year Show, curated by Deborah Cullen, Wallach Gallery, New York
Gullkistan: 20 Years, curated by Ben Valentine, Listasafn Arnesinga Museum, Hveragerdi, Iceland
2014
Manger un mur, curated by Anja Buechel, Centre Culturel de Liege, Liege, Belgium Alex Strada & Charlotte Evans, 3Walls, Brooklyn, New York
2013
Residual, Tapir Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Observations on Recreation, curated by Mary Ellen Mark, National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik
Face to Face, Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2012
XV Anos, curated by Mary Ellen Mark, Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo, Oaxaca, Mexico

AWARDS / ARTIST RESIDENCIES

2017

Emerging Artist Fellowship, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, New York
Best Film in the category of Experimental and Conceptual, Austrian American Short Film Festival, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York

2016
The Art & Law Program, New York

2015
A-Z West Institute of Investigative Living with Andrea Zittel and James Trainor, Joshua Tree, California
Columbia University School of the Arts Dean’s Travel and Research Grant
Andrew Fisher Fellowship, Columbia University

2013
Artist Residency and Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont
Artist Residency and Artist Grant, Takt Kunstprojektraum, Berlin, Germany

2012
Artist Residency, Gullkistan, Laugarvatn, Iceland

ARTIST TALKS

2017
Artist talk, Pecha Kucha, New York University, New York (forthcoming)
Artist talk, Marble Hill Camera Club, Bronx, New York

2016 “Self Governance as Pedagogy: Of Other Spaces”, panel discussion organized by the Art & Law program, Alternative Art School Fair, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, New York
“Psychosocial Landscapes”, panel discussion organized by the Art History, MODA, and Visual Arts Departments of Columbia University, New York
PUBLICATIONS

2017

Farley, Michael Anthony. “This Week’s Must-See Art Events”. Art F City. Feb 6.

2016

“Photos from the Next Generation of Female Photographers”. Vice. 12 August. Zelony-Mindell, Efrem. “Columbia Visual Arts MFA: Fisher Landau”. L’Oeil de la Photographie. 16 May.

2015

Mark, Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen Mark: On the Portrait and the Moment. New York. Aperture. July.
Valentine, Ben. Gullkistan: 20 Years. Hveragerdi, Iceland. Listasafn Arnesinga. July.

2013

Valentine, Ben. “Finding Beauty and Art in Iceland’s Summer Wonderland”, Hyperallergic. 30 August.