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Portadores de Sentido. Arte Contemporáneo en la Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. Museo Amparo de Puebla, México.

(Versión en Español mas abajo)


Portadores de sentido. Contemporary Art in the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection. 

From February 9, 2019 until July 22, 2019  



The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC), in collaboration with the Museo Amparo in Puebla, Mexico, presents the exhibition Portadores de sentido—Contemporary Art from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, on view at the Museo Amparo from February 9 to July 22, 2019.


Portadores de sentido (Bearers of meaning) brings together 70 contemporary artists from 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean whose works were acquired by the CPPC between 1990 and 2015. The exhibition is curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, former Curator of Contemporary Art at the CPPC and now the Director of the Witte de With Contemporary Art Center in Rotterdam. Sara Meadows, Project Manager at the CPPC, is the Assistant Curator for this exhibition.


View selection of artworks here


Download exhibition brochure (in Spanish) here (Source: Museo Amparo)


Curatorial Text

Portadores de sentido presents a broad range of contemporary art by artists from Latin America and the Caribbean from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC). The work in the exhibition is informed by artistic research that elicits narratives, resources and associations with a number of disciplines. With those disciplines in mind, the exhibition has been organized into four groupings, each one of which borrows methodology or derives inspiration from areas of inquiry beyond aesthetics.


The first grouping, Insertions, concerns ethnography and its theories; the second, Excursions, is an analysis of geography; the third, Concrete Environments, considers the implications of urbanism; and the final group, Mediations, addresses media and mass communication. The exhibition emphasizes the artists’ analytical and sensitive responses to a given environment, and how artworks are experienced as bearers of meaning (portadores de sentido) across time and place. Portadores de sentido presents more than 100 artworks acquired between 1990 and 2015 that are representative of the diversity of artistic concerns emerging in Latin America during that time.


Beyond a common geographical determination, the concept of the artist as conveyor of meaning runs through the five collecting areas of the CPPC. Besides contemporary art, the CPPC’s other four collection areas—modernism, colonial art, traveler art from the 16th to 19th centuries, and ethnographic objects from the Orinoco River Basin—reflect a wide range of research and material from Latin America. The concerns of each of these four other areas find renewed expressions in contemporary artistic practice. From the collection of modernist art, specializing in geometric abstraction, there is an impetus to experiment with forms of artmaking in a perceptual and rational idiom; within the colonial period, there is an emphasis on the sacred and secular uses of art; from the collection of traveler art, there is a focus on the artist as an explorer dedicated to the task of field research and the registration of landscape; and from the Orinoco collection, the consideration of the foundational role of everyday and ceremonial materials in both anthropology and aesthetics.


Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Curator
Sara Meadows, Assistant Curator



The artists in this section are concerned with people and cultures, focusing on the particularities of experience and place. Some incorporate ethnographic methodologies directly into their artistic practice. For example, field research is central to Laura Anderson Barbata and Pepe López; both artists have spent extended periods of time with indigenous groups, and their work speaks to the endurance of ancient cultural traditions. The observation of social practices can be found in several works, such as in Juan Manuel Echavarría’s video Bocas de ceniza, in which he documents individuals bearing witness through song to the drug-related violence they experienced. Also included in this section are artists who collect and record everyday materials from contemporary life to provide insight into a particular time and environment. Other artists revisit cultural histories, transforming archival material in order to invite a contemporary perspective. Together, the artists in this group share different stories of humanity.



The artists in this section share an interest in place, and in the relationships between humans and land. With their video documentation of glass bottles accumulating in a recycling center in Panama, Donna Conlon and Jonathan Harker draw attention to the impact people have on the environment. Eduardo Navarro takes a specific landform—Guagua Pichincha, an active volcano outside of Quito, Ecuador—as the subject of his work Poema volcánico. In preparation for his descent into the crater, the artist conducted extensive research in collaboration with a volcanologist. Exploration, adventure, and the long tradition of scientific expeditions are the inspiration for several works in this section. Inspired by the unfamiliar, Irene Kopelman travels to remote places to record her first-hand observations and impressions. With his presentation of a contemporaneous itinerary of Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, Paul Ramírez Jonas allows the viewer to think through the con-temporary nature of travel. The notions of territory and cartography are addressed in the work of Manuela Ribadeneira and Daniel Medina, who both point to the often arbitrary nature of borders. These are but a few of the multi-layered and shifting approaches to geography that have been used by artists in this section.


Concrete Environments

The theme of urbanism unites the works in this section of the exhibition. How individuals and societies interact with the built environment, the persistent evidence of history in urban spaces, the political forces that shape them, the cycles of decay and resurgence exemplified in a city’s architectural ruins, and abandoned or in-process sites of construction are all rich areas of inquiry. Among those artists responding to urbanism, Iosu Aramburu’s work infers not only loss but continuity of the past into the present. Federico Herrero and Pia Camil are both inspired by the unfinished and derelict areas of a city, but Herrero finds in the open-endedness of these spaces an opportunity to see “where painting is happening” spontaneously, while Camil sees the urban ruins along Mexico’s highways as a manifestation of “the aesthetic of failure.” Dulce Gómez contrasts the green space of an urban park with a brick wall, and Alejandro Paz Navas films the wandering journey of a homeless man, incongruously shadowed by a bodyguard, as the two men walk through Guatemala City.



The social impact of media and mass communication on the construction of culture and individual identity provides a common thread between the artists in this section. Included in this group is Luis Molina-Pantin, whose photographs of telenovela sets bring us into the realm of imaginary real estate inflected with cultural referents that make the invented spaces of television appealing to their audiences. The ability of media to make certain objects and materials universally desirable, erasing local preferences, can be seen in Mauricio Lupini’s photos of Barbie and Ken dolls with their homogeneous perfection, and in Valentina Leirnur’s use of denim, a ubiquitous fabric in contemporary life. The videos of Jessica Lagunas remind us of the absurdity of the ideals of feminine beauty perpetuated by popular media. Sebastián Gordín renders pulp journalism unreadable by recasting magazines in marquetry, inventing mysterious cover images that remain unexplained by their “content.”


Source: Colección Cisneros



Portadores de sentido reúne a 70 artistas de 16 países de América Latina y el Caribe cuyas obras fueron adquiridas por la Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) entre 1990 y el 2015. Este proyecto se centra en los diálogos entre la colección de arte contemporáneo y otros temas como: arte moderno,