Today, LACMA welcomes Guadalupe Rosales, our first Instagram artist in residence. Guadalupe is an artist and archivist based in Los Angeles and the founder of Veteranas and Rucas (@veteranas_and_rucas) and Map Pointz (@map-pointz), both digital archives found on Instagram. She has an ongoing project developing an archive of photographs, objects, and ephemera related to the ’90s Los Angeles Latinx party crew scene. By preserving artifacts and memorabilia, Guadalupe’s work deconstructs and reframes marginalized histories, offering platforms of conversation and agency of self-representation. Guadalupe has lectured at various institutions such as UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, the New Museum, the Vincent Price Art Museum, New York University, and the Graduate Center in New York. Last year, she took over The New Yorker’s social media for a week in one of the top-rated takeovers of the year.
I recently spoke with Guadalupe and Rita Gonzalez, curator and acting head of Contemporary Art at LACMA, to learn more about this new artist residency project.
What was the genesis of this artist residency?
Guadalupe: [LACMA director] Michael Govan discovered my work at an exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park, which led to a conversation about using LACMA’s social media platforms for artists. The piece I had in the exhibition was a silent video of screen grabs from Veteranas and Rucas. There were about 50 images looping. Each image stayed up for about one minute, long enough for the viewer to read the comments below the images. I added the comment sections as a way to give voice or humanize the photographs because I wanted the audience to understand that people's stories and photos are important and I wanted to honor that.
How does an artist’s perspective reframe this particular platform?
Rita: What struck us about Guadalupe’s approach is her use of Instagram in an expanded sense. She thinks about the platform in the way that curators and artists use research to approach their work, and highlights the different ways of telling stories visually, drawing out people's experiences in a narrative way. Guadalupe’s practice speaks to her deep understanding of photography, namely the uses and potential of photography to address identity and community. She highlights the different ways of telling stories visually, drawing out people’s experiences in a narrative way. Starting with a found or gifted photograph or a flyer, Guadalupe uses her voice and the voices of others in a commentary that constitutes a historical framing. That’s what curators do at museums; they create context by putting the objects in relationship to other works and they encourage people to think about how art from different cultural perspectives and time periods can align and cause one to rethink one’s experience.
What will the Instagram artist residency look like?
Guadalupe: I will be using LACMA’s Instagram platform to show and talk about art in a different way, beginning with my personal take, then offering the platform to the public for an open discussion. I want to have conversations about art with people from different backgrounds, and Instagram is an ideal place for that. It’s where we will all intersect and have dialogue around artworks inside and outside of museums. This project will be educational and encourage casual conversations about art in Los Angeles. There is no right or wrong way of speaking about art. For instance, two people can be looking at the same sculpture or painting and have two different experiences. Both are just as valid. Whether someone studied art or not, all feelings and opinions are valid.
LACMA has had a long tradition of artist residencies. Rita, how do you see this Instagram residency within the museum’s broader mission, and how do you think it will change audience engagement?
Rita: From LACMA's beginnings, we have been interested in addressing artist perspectives on the museum. LACMA has been a laboratory for experimentation, bringing a variety of artists to engage with not only the collection but with the experience of being here. Artists have occupied the museum through projects like Machine Project's Field Guide to LACMA or Fallen Fruit, highlighting the idea of the artist’s autonomy. This continues with Guadalupe's residency. What ideas can be generated and how will barriers be broken down? Photography tends to be really effective at breaking down barriers, because everyone grows up watching their own experience through other people’s eyes, through photographs. Coupled with the fact that most people experience the museum through the lens of their phones. So Guadalupe is the perfect person to put all these things together and explore what one’s experience of the museum is, not just, here’s my reflection on a shiny surface.
As part of the artist residency, Guadalupe Rosales will take over LACMA’s Instagram for six weeks beginning July 5, 2017.