Deborah Castillo: Political Iconoclasm and Other Forms of Civil Disobedience

Deborah Castillo, La Mezuela

Graffiti of Lamezuela (2011). image / Deborah Castillo

Deborah Castillo: Political Iconoclasm and other Forms of Civil Disobedience examines the artist's own form of political dissidence as she responds to the increasingly repressive government of Venezuela. Taking the iconic figure of Simón Bolívar—liberator of much of South America—as a point of departure, Castillo investigates the myth of the nation through the construction of political and military heroes. Facing the regime of the late Hugo Chávez, the artist questions the rising nationalism engendered by the former Venezuelan president as he aligned his political campaign with the cult of Simón Bolívar. In a series of interventions into the classic bust of El Libertador, the artist reveals the failures of the state and its Utopian promises.

Despite being aware of Chávez's efforts to eliminate the opposition, Castillo enacted her first act of disobedience in a public performance where she licked the boot of a military official. Because of this cynical and dangerous act, the artist fell victim to government intimidation and persecution when Chávez declared her an enemy of the state on national television. Manifested through the play between adoration and hatred, construction and destruction, Castillo's works propose a critical look into the social and political history of Venezuela.

Castillo is a Venezuela-born, New York-based, multidisciplinary artist. She employs different mediums such as performance, video, photography, and sculpture in order to dissect the idea of power, its structures, and its weight on sexuality, social expectations, desire, identity, and the construction of contemporary myth. Castillo holds a M.F.A. and B.F.A. from Armando Reverón School of Fine Arts, Caracas, Venezuela. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design; the New Museum; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; Escuela de Bellas Artes; Bolivian Biennial SIART; Caja Sol, Sevilla; UCLA; ICA, London; and elsewhere. The artist has also been the recipient of several awards such as Premio Armando Reverón (2014); AVAP in the Young Artist Category (2013); and the Award Sala Mendoza at the XI Salón Eugenio Mendoza (2003), among others.

A conversation with the artist will be held on Monday, April 4 at 12:15 p.m. in Stimson Hall, room 105. The opening gallery reception will be held on the same day at 5 p.m. in the Bibliowicz Family Gallery, Milstein Hall. The artist talk is sponsored by the Latin American Studies Program, the Department of Art History, the Curatorial Collective, the Society for Humanities, and the Einaudi Center.