Alejandro Almanza Pereda: Down_Under_Side

“Man loves everything that satisfies his comfort. He hates everything that wants to draw him out of his acquired and secured position and that disturbs him. Thus he loves the house and hates art.”
— Alfred Loos, Pioneering Modernist Architect
“Every day, in our lives, we face risk with possible dangers. Every situation encountered is confronted by the speculation of hazards. Risk perception enables us to make an assessment of what consequences we face by partaking in certain decisions or activities. Through my sculptures, photographs, and installations, I take these preconceived ideas of what is considered dangerous and create tension and awkwardness for the spectator.”
— Alejandro Almanza Pereda
 
New York and Mexico City-based artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda constructs installations from an assembly of mundane objects, such as cinder blocks, fluorescent light bulbs, bowling balls, fish tanks and old furniture. Through the juxtaposition and pairing of materials and objects, he achieves a sense of tension from makeshift environments with specific connotations such as fragility, value and weight. The installations create an expectation of a possible future event, which adds a temporal dimension to the static object. The precariousness of its instability affects the viewer’s knowledge, and their assessment of its impending violent destruction that may or may never come.
 
Almanza’s work brings into question the definition of architecture in relation to daily urban life. In his new work, Down_Under_Side, the artist poses the question: How do the concepts of solidity, utility and beauty function in architecture today? When can a structure no longer hold its contents, or no longer hold itself? The premier of his new body of work exposes recent interests in 17th century Northern European still life paintings, which come into play as he recreates a new series of still life videos inside swimming pools. A collaboration with Iraqi-born and Phoenix-based painter Bassim Al Shaker will also be part of the installation, featuring a new still life painting created specially for the exhibition.
 
Using his collection of antiques and thrift store finds from Mexico, New York and Phoenix, Almanza has also chosen to shoot the still life scenes underwater and upside-down in an almost film noir setting in black and white. One can see the construction and deconstruction of the still life as it relates to the construction of how cultural memory is inherent in the displayed objects, flowers, vegetables, fruits and drinking vessels. The structure or still life scenario that Almanza has created brings into question: What happens when the content becomes more important than the actual structure?
 
The ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program in downtown Phoenix at Combine Studios is open 2 – 6 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment for the duration of Almanza’s installation. For directions, visit: http://asuartmuseum.asu.edu/about/visit.php

Location: 
ASU Art Museum, Tempe campus
Price: 
Free