Juan Capistrán (1976) works with sculpture, video, painting, photography, drawing, performance, installation and sound. Through transdisciplinary projects, he uses strategies of conceptualism and artistic appropriation to question notions of class, identity, revolution and power. Mexican-born artist, raised in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Los Angeles, Capistrán cleverly mixes a wide variety of references: from musical counterculture and minimalist art to civil rights movements or existentialism. Lately, Juan Capistrán has investigated rejection, assimilation and mutation arising from the collision or failure of one or multiple ideologies. His work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ICA Boston; LACMA; MCA Denver; New Museum, New York and the Istanbul Biennial, among others.
In this project for ARTBO, Juan Capistrán develops further his artistic practice, which connects his personal story with his recent research on the issues of violence, power, insurrection and political resistance. The musical quotes of The Chambers Brothers and FEAR, in addition to the passage from the book Introduction to Civil War (2009) by the anarchist collective Tiqqun, enable the artist to initiate a conversation with the viewer regarding the political paths that the individual can take in collectivity. The photography, which Capistrán reproduced and painted with blood, sweat and tears, taken during the riots in Los Angeles in 1992 and showing a person with a shopping cart next to a burning building, makes it possible to generate another type of questions. Is this individual a looter, an arsonist, a rioter, or perhaps a revolutionary? Precisely, this question on whether to take sides seems to be the artist’s intention, assuming that nowadays one should not simply position himself ideologically, on the left or right side, with a black-and-white vision of the world. On the contrary, he proposes a perspective in which each individual is involved in the events that happen around him, and it is in his power to decide how he wants to live in relation to the control devices of contemporary societies.