About the Piece

Carmen Argote: Alex’s Room

June 4July 16, 2016

Reception: Saturday, June 4, 7–10PM

Location: 3006 W 7TH ST STE 220 Los Angeles CA 90005

Exhibition Hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 12–6PM and by appointment

Opening Night Parking: 2904 W 7TH ST

Commonwealth and Council presents Alex’s Room by Carmen Argote, a new body of work comprised of sculpture, video, photomontage, painting, and stop-motion animation that combines a hand-me-down, LA version of a Mexican Baroque aesthetic with a cross pollination of cosplay, J-Rock, and resourcefulness.

An intimate collaboration between siblings, Argote takes arrangement as social action to render an interdimensional portrait of her sister, Alejandra Argote, who surrounds herself with a menagerie of signifiers that embraces discursive timelines and economies of taste. Through successive arrangements of objects from her collection, Alex shares a wealth of visuality inflected with an idiosyncratic lexicon of cultural identity. Together, the sisters transform Alex’s compact living quarters from a space of containment into a repository of meaning.

Inspired by the objects in the room, Argote introduces playtime to engage with Alex while co-inhabiting her low-income unit in Boyle Heights. In the video, Alex’s Room, Alex wears paper mache masks made by the artist as she performs for the camera. Each mask features a prosthetic growth referencing a specific object from the room that functions as a prop to connote a makeshift atmosphere. In response, Alex pairs each segment of the video with a musical score, creating a crescendo of bifurcating moods. Using chroma key, the second video focuses on Alex’s hands in relationship to the objects as she considers each arrangement—emphasizing how “Everything is in its place, but everything is everywhere.”

Argote visualizes an expansive multiverse within Alex’s room with a series of photomontage that layers a single image in repetition. Emanating from these reverberating fields of stacked objects, Alex in a costume as Princess Mononoke or a planetary orbit come to the fore, inciting a space unbound by the structure of the frame. In an abstracted painting of computer boxes titled Pyramid, the artist constructs a personal monument to storage containers whereas a stop-motion animation playfully mines the indexical trace of the objects inside Alex’s room, suggesting a dialectic between form and its content through outlines of shapes.

Based on the facades of buildings around her sister’s neighborhood, seven altars in the form of theaters are arranged by Alex with objects on loan from her room. For the duration of the exhibition, Alex and Carmen Argote will host “Wampa Wednesday” at the gallery every Wednesday from 1 to 5PM.