Beatriz Cortez

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Artist Statement

My work is about the memory of growing up in El Salvador, and about migration. But my work is also about the experience of simultaneity: of living in two places at once, San Salvador and Los Angeles, existing in two or more, but different versions of modernity, in different cultural mind frames, moving back and forth within different technologies and different temporalities. I think of memory as part of a process of transformation, movement, becoming other, nomadism. And so, I build memory in order to imagine possible futures.

I make machines that function as metaphors of movement, time travel, simultaneity. My time machines, memory machines, fortune teller machines, pinball machines display crumbling versions of modernity and newer versions of modernity at once. The ability to intervene in the chronological order of time is important to my work.

I am also interested in exploring syncretism and simultaneity through vernacular or domestic architecture in the city of Los Angeles, brining together modern and ancient forms of construction. An indigenous way of building with river rocks was incorporated into the construction of craftsman homes, in what came to be known as a vernacular craftsman. This form of construction serves as a metaphor of cultural diversity, coexistence, and nomadism. My work evokes these constructions as it imagines structures of the future.

In addition, my work explores the untimely conversations and other forms of communication within displaced and fragmented communities, with alternative technologies, precarious realities, limited access, and the formation of trans-spatial collective subjectivities.

Furthermore, my work embraces speculative thought and contingency, not as a threat to Western rationality, but rather, in a positive light, as a space where we might imagine other possible worlds, actively vacate our own subjectivity, and imagine being other, being elsewhere, being collective, being nomadic. In this way, I imagine the experience of displaced communities divided by borders and their affirmative potentialities.

In sum, my work is about simultaneity, movement, becoming other, fragmenting our identities, and imagining untimely experiences.



• Master of Fine Arts, School of Art, California Institute of the Arts, 2015.

• Doctor in Latin American Literature/Cultural Studies, Arizona State University, 1999.

Select Exhibitions

Solo Shows


• Nomad World. Vincent Price Art Museum. September 24, 2016 – January 28, 2017.

• LA Vernacular: Space Capsule Interior Series I. Monte Vista Projects. July 16- August 8, 2016.

• Your Life Work. Art+TECH Residency Exhibition. Cerritos College. March 1-April 1, 2016.


• The Cosmos. D300, California Institute of the Arts. February 21-27, 2015.

Nomad World. Stamp Gallery, University of Maryland, College Park. January 26-March 12, 2015.


• Burned. Centro Cultural de Españ a, San Salvador, El Salvador. July 16-30, 2014.

• Our Roots. L Shape Gallery, California Institute of the Arts. January 27-31, 2014.


• The Time Machine. Grand Central Arts Center. August 3 – October 13, 2013.

• Childhood Bedroom. TRACTIONARTS, Los Angeles. May 25 – June 7, 2013.

• The Two Lavas. Shed Gallery, California State University, Northridge. March 11-15, 2013.


• Echoes & Memories. Museo Municipal Tecleño, El Salvador. December 12, 2012-January 16, 2013.

• The Books of Memory. Shed Gallery, CSU, Northridge. November 26-30, 2012.

• American Dream Blues. Los Angeles Theatre Center, Los Angeles, CA. May 31 – June 14, 2012.


• American Dream Blues. Manzanita Gallery, CSU, Northridge. May 27 – June 14, 2011.

Group Shows


• Mundos alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas. Curated by Tyler Stallings, Joanna

Szupinska-Myers, and Robb Hernández. UCR ARTSblock. Sept. 16, 2017- February 4, 2018.

• Tierra. Sangre. Oro., with Rafa Esparza, Carmen Argote, Nao Bustamante, Timo Fahler, Eamon Ore-

Girón, and Star Montana. Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX. August 25, 2017 – March 18, 2018.

• Why Art Matters! Curated by Max Presneill. Torrance Art Museum. June 17 – August 12, 2017.

• 2017 California-Pacific Triennial. Curated by Cassandra Coblentz. OCMA. May 6-Sept. 3, 2017.

• Rafa Esparza’s Figure Ground: Beyond the White Field, at the Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney

Museum of Art, New York. March 17 – June 11, 2017.


• Of Fragile Things: Architecture and Desire. Curated by Aluna Art Foundation. PINTA Art Fair, Miami.

November 30 – December 4, 2016.

• Anticamera. Curated by K. Johanson. The Bindery Projects, St. Paul, MN. Nov. 12-Dec. 31, 2016.

• De la tierra a la tierra/From the Earth to the Earth. MET Quito, Ecuador. Oct. 25 – Nov. 30, 2016.

• Without Design or Sketch: The Story of the Room. LAUNCH LA. September 10-October 1, 2016.

• A cielo abierto (With an Open Sky). Curated by Mayra Barraza. Sala Nacional de Exposiciones

Salarrué, San Salvador, El Salvador. March 3-April 17, 2016.

• Go Big or Go Home. Curated by Ashley Hagen, Emily Sudd, and Elizabeth Tingloff. Brand Library &

Art Center, Glendale, California. February 20 – March 25, 2016.

• Customizing Language. Curated by Idurre Alonso and Selene Preciado. Los Angeles Contemporary

Exhibitions (LACE). January 6 – February 14, 2016.


• SUR 3 Biennial. Cerritos College Art Gallery. Curated by James MacDevitt. Oct. 1 – Nov. 30, 2015.

• Ser y no saber nada y ser sin rumbo cierto (To Be and Not to Know Anything, and to Be without

Bearing). La Fábrica, Estudios de arte contemporáneo, El Salvador. July 19-August 3, 2015.

• Guatemala Después. Ciudad de la Imaginación. Centro Cultural de Españ a, Guatemala City,

Guatemala. September 3 – October 24, 2015; Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. June 6 – July 3, 2015;

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, New York. April 9 – 29, 2015.

• Vida y memoria de Patzicía. Museo Kaqjay, Patzicı́a, Guatemala. January -March, 2015.


• 10. MARTE Contemporáneo, Museo de Arte de El Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador. September 2 –

October 12, 2014.

• Time / Memory. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana. Jan. 25 – Feb. 22, 2014.


• Inquieta imagen 2013. Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, San José, Costa Rica. November 28,

2013 – February 14, 2014.

• Mourning and Scars: 20 Years After the War. Curated by Roxana Leiva, SOMARTS, San Francisco.

February 1 – 28, 2013.

Prizes and Awards

• 2017 Artist Community Engagement Grant in Los Angeles.

Residencies and Fellowships

• 2018. The Main Museum Artist-in-Residence.

• 2016-2017. California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists.

• 2015-2016. The Reef, Los Angeles, Artist-in-Residence.

• 2015-2016. Cerritos College Art+TECH Artist-in-Residence. Cerritos College, Norwalk, CA.

• 2014-2015. Guatemala Después, in collaboration with Kaqjay Moloj. Patzicı́a, Guatemala; Ciudad

imaginación, Quetzaltenango; and the New School of Social Science in New York City.


Art Related Publications

• “Memoria n.mada.” Arte correo internacional: Solidarios por la paz. Sala Nacional de Exposiciones

Salarru., San Salvador, El Salvador. Secretar.a de Cultura de la Presidencia, 2017. 95-97.

• “Un viaje a trav.s del tiempo: El proyecto Catherwood de Leandro Katz.” Revista Realidad,

Universidad Centroamericana “Jos. Sime.n, El Salvador (148): 197-204.

• “La cajita feliz.” Contrapunto. November 9, 2014.

• “Castigo y espect.culo.” Contrapunto. September 24, 2014.

• “Botes que oscilan entre lo sagrado y lo profano.” Contrapunto. August 9, 2014.

• “.Qui.n perdi. sus chancletas?” Contrapunto. March 29, 2014.

Select Academic Publications

Books authored:

1. Estética del cinismo. Pasión y desencanto en la literatura centroamericana de posguerra

(Aesthetics of Cynicism: Passion and Disenchantment in Post War Central American Literature).

Guatemala: F&G Editores, 2010.

Books edited:

1. Perversiones de la Modernidad. Literaturas, identidades y desplazamientos (Perversions of

Modernity: Literatures, Identities, and Displacements). Eds. Beatriz Cortez, Alexandra Ortiz-

Wallner y Ver.nica R.os-Quesada. Guatemala: F&G Editores, 2012.

2. Introduction to Central American Studies. Eds. Beatriz Cortez and Douglas Carranza Mena.

Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt, 2008. 2nd edition 2015.

Journal issues edited:

1. Revista Iberoamericana. Special issue on Central American Cultural Studies. 2013. Beatriz

Cortez and Leonel Delgado Aburto, co-editors.

Selected Journal Articles:

1. “La construcci.n local de la memoria: Las del Museo Comunitario Kaqjay de Patzic.a,

Guatemala” (“The Local Construction of Memory: The Photographs of the Kaqjay Community

Museum in Patzic.a, Guatemala”). Revista Iberoamericana (2013): 227-242.

2. “El fin de la estirpe” (“The End of the Lineage”). Cultura: Revista del Consejo Nacional para la

Cultura y el Arte 104 (2010): 200-207.

3. “Memoria, naci.n y pol.ticas culturales de exclusi.n” (“Memory, Nation, and Cultural Politics of

Exclusion”). ECA: Estudios Centroamericanos 709-710 (2007): 1056-1061.

Select Bibliography

• “For Latino Artists in Sci-Fi Show, Everyone’s an Alien,” by Jori Finkel. The New York Times. August

27, 2017.

• “Why the Whitney’s Humanist, Pro-Diversity Biennial Is a Revelation,” by Roberta Smith. The New

York Times, March 16, 2017.

• “Beatriz Cortez: Nomad World, Interview by Vilma M. Ronzon.” East Los Angeles College, Vincent

Price Art Museum Blog. December 1, 2016.

• “Beatriz Cortez at Vincent Price Art Museum,” by Andy Campbell. Artforum. November 18, 2016.

• “What Does Pinball Have to Do with Global Capitalism? A Monterey Park Exhibit Explains,” by Eva

Recinos. LA Weekly, September 29, 2016.

Your Life Work: An Exhibition by Beatriz Cortez, 2015. Art+TECH Artist-in-Residence. Cerritos College

Art Gallery exhibition catalog. Contributors: Beatriz Cortez, James MacDevitt, Jeffrey Vallance, and

James Wiltgen. 2016.

• “Cosmic Fractures: Beatriz Cortez’s Simultaneous Realities,” by R. Gutiérrez. Artbound. March 23,


• “Soldadera: The Unraveling of a Kevlar Dress,” by Hannah Manshel. Artbound. May 28, 2015.

• “Beatriz Cortez’s Solo Show Nomad World Opens at UMD,” by Soleil David. CalArts Blog. January

16, 2015.

• “Framework: Window on the World,” by Anne Cusack. Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2013.

• “Salvadoran War Inspires Artwork in New SOMArts Exhibition,” by Jean Schiffman. San Francisco

Arts Monthly, Vol. 22, Num. 4, February, 2013.

• “Mourning and Scars: Salvadoran Artists,” by Nirmala Nataraj. San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 30 2013