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5 questions with Juan Si Gonzalez

Internationally renown artist Juan Si Gonzalez will open the 13th edition of aluCine with an installation on March 21, then hold an artist talk the next evening at the Toronto Free Gallery (1277 Bloor St. West at Landsdowne). aluCine asked Juan about his work and life, Cuba and America:

JUAN SI GONZALEZ

alucine: Juan, you’re opening the festival Thursday night.  Can you tell us what you’re unveiling?
JSG:  Stay-at-Home Dad consists of photos and objects that show me taking care of my little daughter Camila  in the U.S. following 9/11. The pieces explore the commercialization of war, patriotism, and faith as well as the repercussions on our emotional and psychic consciousness.  In fact, you can see Camila above.

aluCine: The official opening is by private invite, so how can the public see your work?
JSG:  Stay-at-Home Dad will be open to the public until March 30 for free. The Toronto Free Gallery will be open on Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00-6:00pm, Sunday, March 24 from 2:00-6:00pm though closed on Monday, March 25.  Keep in mind there will be other aluCine events happening that the public is welcome to see, like the Music Workshop by Lalo Porto, Luciano Porto and Sergio Elmir on Saturday afternoon or Newton Moraes’ Afro-Brazilian Dance on Sunday afternoon. Both events are free.

aluCine: On March 22 you’re delivering a talk.  What will you discuss?
JSG: The process of creating my three past exhibitions.  I’ll be showing photographs from these exhibitions to give the audience a grasp on the subject matter and how I dealt with it.  I’ll also discuss how these ideas grew and developed from piece-to-piece throughout the changing times as they all work within the same framework of themes, ideals and ideologies.

1-Historical Training view

aluCine: What role does Cuba play in your life and art?
JSG: I was born there and studied at the Higher Institute of the Arts in Havana.  I was selected to participate in the first and second Havana Biennales.  In 1987,  I co-founded the group “Art-De” and began doing interactive political performances in the streets of Havana and underground videos to talk about social issues in Cuba.

aluCine: You’re now American?
JSG:  Si.  I’ve lived in the States since 1993, but continue to address social and political themes.  For example, after 9/11 I created a series of installation pieces exploring the heightened sense of nationalism in the country and the convergence of religious fundamentalism and patriotism.  Meanwhile, my work has been exhibited here and abroad, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Costa Rica; the Frost Art Museum, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, the Miami Art Museum in Florida; the Museum of Latin American Art in California; El Museo del Barrio, Exit Art in New York; The Museum of Art in Indiana; The International House Gallery in Philadelphia;  and The Cambridge Arts Center in Massachusetts among many others.  I look forward to seeing Torontonians next week.