Nutrition For A Better Life (Compre Chatarra)
In Nutrition For A Better Life (Compre Chattara), Carmen Argote’s practice focuses on Istanbul and its modes and signs of exchange. Lately, Carmen has been interested in the mechanics of trade and the recalibration of systems of value; she is searching for a visual language about the movement of merchandise as it relates to the body and space and the city in which the exchange is both born and which it exemplifies. Specifically, she looks to discarded objects transformed into items for sale – chattara, as its called in Spanish – and the way it reflects her own practice as an artist in transforming objects anew.
Recently, she spent time in Guadalajara for a residency. There, she used the primary local produce – the orange – as both a material and performative element in her exhibition, transforming the everyday fruit. And, in Spanish Harlem New York at her show with Ballon Rouge Collective late last year, Carmen used the avocado to make works relating to the fruit’s popularity in gentrified society in stark contrast to the realities of it’s farming and export from places like Mexico.
After several days of walking Istanbul (a primary part of her practice in order to situate and observe in cities not her own), Carmen’s point of focus became the Hurdaci.Hurda means scraps, junk, salvage, and -cI is a suffix to denote the person selling the word it finishes. Hurdaci walk around Istanbul with a hand-cart (el Araba) selling scraped and found materials. She was drawn to the human scale, the simplicity, and the migratory and ephemeral quality of this vehicle of exchange. The hand-car, the objects found on the cart, and references to the streets upon which it moves make up the pulse of the exhibition.