On view at GRIMM this month in New York, artist Arturo Kameya presents a body of works unified under the title En esa pulga se mezcla nuestra sangre / In that flea, our blood mixes. Featuring a range of new works that expand beyond the narratives explored in the artist’s multimedia presentation currently on view in Soft Water Hard Stone, the New Museum Triennial, the show continues Kameya’s investigation of the plasticity of history and time, revisiting events and narratives through perspectives that are at times contradictory, and through the lens of the personal memories of his upbringing in Lima, Peru.
The works in the exhibition reflect upon the ever-fluctuating margins within Lima’s urban middle class community: its aspirations and disappointments, debts and misfortunes, religions and superstitions, farewells and resignations. The exhibition includes works that depict memories of the artist’s childhood home that are recreated with superstitious undercurrents, taking inspiration from diverse sources of his personal archive: family photos, press images, e-commerce sites and more. Various paintings include domestic rituals that feature a Youtube tutorial of a cleansing practice, a tabletop set-up to assist the dead in “crossing over,” and reinterpretations of his family’s furniture topped with offerings of alcohol, souvenirs, medicine and flowers.
Kameya debuts three paintings in a new series that explore local commercial products borne out of various superstitions. The products chosen for the works are based on cleansing formulas, available in small shops or online, and the images depicted are reinterpretations of Tarot iconography and cleansing bottle labels. Three works from this series are on view as a nod to the popular phrase Salud, dinero y amor.
The varied motifs explored in the exhibition are encapsulated in the work Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, but dogs just want to go to outer space (2021). The painting depicts a New Year’s lore, in which people set fire to their old belongings to bid farewell to the year that has just passed. The title refers to aspirational desires that differ in each stage of life, that die little by little throughout each year, only to be revived at the beginning of every new year.
Wrapping up a series of works that negotiate personal experience and intricate historical threads, Kameya’s work is on view through January 15th.
– D. Creahan
Arturo Kameya: En esa pulga se mezcla nuestra sangre [Exhibition Site]