Domesticizing Art: An Interview with Alejandra Seeber Reflecting on CAZA at The Bronx Museum

Artemisa Gallery
Oct 12, 2016 2:45PM

The Bronx Museum’s recent CAZA exhibition explored the language of visual art within domestic environments. Diverging from the word ‘Caza’ which in Spanish means ‘hunting’ or ‘searching’, while also referencing the homophone 'casa' which in Spanish means 'home', the exhibition brought together 18 works by three contemporary female artists Alejandra Seeber, Rochele Gomez, and Margaret Lee. CAZA revealed how these three culturally diverse artists address their roots and backgrounds and the role of art in familiar and domestic environments. While Gomez’s work focuses around art in her childhood home, Lee’s painted photographs of household appliances stage a process of purified refinement, and Seeber’s paintings portray fragments and abstractions of interior spaces inclusive of art displays. The exhibition cleverly presented how each artist searches for their own personal meaning of the role of art in their lives.

Image courtesy of Chris Alzapiedi 

In an exclusive interview, Alejandra Seeber reflects on the show and tells us about her cultural influences, upbrin​ging, and inspiration for her paintings in CAZA.

Samantha Coven: What are your paintings specifically referencing about your Argentine cultural background?

Alejandra Seeber: These paintings were all produced in New York, or in between trips, and my paintings never specifically addressed any Argentinean issues. However, I would say that all of my work references Argentinean cultural background in that it has the quality of a certain vagueness, or lack of precision. If you think of painting as language, Spanish which is the language we speak in Argentina is much more ambiguous than English. Borges defined the archetypal Argentinean like this: Argentinean is an Italian that speaks Spanish, thinks in French and would like to be British. If I have to synthesize this I would say, ambiguity and a multilayered aspect of my work would be referencing my Argentinean origin.

SC: How do your paintings accentuate different aspects of culture?

AS: I think shreds of culture kind of slip into the paintings the same way each artist sums to the general discourse but in the case of painting it is not that easy to trace.... Whenever I think I’m being more direct, there is also another layer referencing something else. I do like to pay attention to other uses of paint as inspirations for my work and in this sense, for example, urban marks or colors are incorporated in my pictures, but the work is never about that, it just uses that. I recently read an interview about globalization and corruption between an Argentinean lawyer and an International Criminal law chief prosecutor. The Argentinean lawyer said that in a way an Argentinean is more ready to “read” reality because of the way politics and our very zig zag history are constituted...we have learned to read in between the lines. Lines and layers relate to the background culture and also relate to a contemporary state of being.

SC: How does memory come into play in your work?

AS: I always think forward but at the same time I think oil paint has a nostalgic quality, so the idea of memory is played by this nostalgic tint of oil. Memories are another element for playing with synchronicity. Once things have happened, and are a memory, they are like the material for a painting when all is flattened in the same space.

SC: In what ways does the hunting reference come to life in your works?

AS: The hunting reference is a game of words created by Caza’s curator, the brilliant Sofia Hernandez Chong Huy, and it encompasses the domestic and the estranged at once, or maybe it refers to how we can domesticate this thing called Art that is being produced by the artist and at the same time is kind of disattached from the artist?

SC: Do you have any forthcoming projects or exhibitions coming up?

AS: I am currently showing at Hausler Contemporary Zurich, and I will be showing at the Museo Thyssen in Madrid in February.


Alejandra Seeber (b. 1969 in Buenos Aires) lives and works in New York. She has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions internationally, including at the Fundación Proa in Buenos Aires, Hausler Contemporary in Munich and Zurich, Barro in Buenos Aires, Artemisa Gallery in New York, and Sperone Westwater in New York. Her work was featured in the 7th Bienal do Merocsul (2009) in Porto Alegre and in S-files (2003) at El Museo del Barrio in New York. Her work has also been featured in museum group exhibitions internationally, including at the Kunst Museum of Saint Gallen in Switzerland, the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires, as well as the MALBA – Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. She studied at Prilidiano Pueyrredon School of Fine Arts in Argentina, and participated in the Beca Kuitca Studio Program in Buenos Aires and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. 

Courtesy of the artist and Artemisa Gallery. Interview conducted by Samantha Coven of Artemisa Gallery. Photos courtesy of Chris Alzapiedi.

Artemisa Gallery