March 04, 2008

Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement, on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from April 6 through September 1, 2008, is the first major consideration of the legacy of Chicano art in almost two decades. Unlike most exhibitions of Chicano art that have preceded it, Phantom Sightings moves away from efforts to define a distinct identity or style and instead focuses attention on conceptual strategies that artists use to intervene in public spaces or debates. Phantom Sightings traces these tendencies to the late 1960s, adding a new dimension to our understanding of Chicano art history and notions of ethnic identity, cultural politics, and artistic practice.

As the exhibition's title, inspired by artist and commentator Harry Gamboa Jr., suggests, Chicanos have historically constituted a "phantom culture" within American society -- largely unperceived, unrecognized, and uncredited by the mainstream. In contrast, Chicano art was established as a politically and culturally inspired movement during the late 1960s and early '70s, stressing ethnic pride and political empowerment.

While attentive to this historical context, Phantom Sightings places an emphasis on a newer generation of emerging artists from across the United States, many who do not work under the label of "Chicano art." These artists engage local and global politics, mix high and low cultures, and sample legitimate and bootlegged sources -- but they do so within a conceptual framework.

Phantom Sightings will feature thirty-one artists and 120 works, including paintings, sculpture, installation, video, performance, and photo-based art, and intermedia works that incorporate film, digital imagery, and sound -- a number of them newly commissioned for the show. After Phantom Sightings' premiere showing at LACMA, a tour is planned for the U.S. and Mexico.

Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement is organized by LACMA in conjunction with the Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC) at University of California, Los Angeles. Curators for the exhibition are Rita Gonzalez, Assistant Curator for Special Exhibitions, Howard N. Fox, Curator of Contemporary Art, and Chon A. Noriega, Adjunct Curator of Chicano and Latino Art and Director, CSRC.

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