Les invités de la collection — Carlos Amorales, Tomás Espina et Martin Cordiano


Drawing, installation, sculpture

Les invités de la collection
Carlos Amorales, Tomás Espina et Martin Cordiano

Past: October 22 → December 31, 2011

Why do we write laws? Upon what grounds does a particular place become someone’s property? These are the questions posed by the work of the Latin American artists in residence at MAC/VAL, Carlos Amorales, Tomás Espina, and Martin Cordiano.

Carlos Amorales

Carlos Amorales was born in Mexico City in 1970, where he continues to live and work. Educated at Amsterdam’s Gerriet Rietveld Akademie and Rijksakademie between 1992 and 1996, Amorales questions the artist’s competitive nature and its social and political implications in the contemporary world through his drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos. He creates boxing movies where he plays his own doppelganger and explores the notion of hybridization related to the cultural shock that he felt when he moved to Europe for his studies. How does one negotiate the shift from a rural civilization to an urban civilization? What induces the passage from animal to human state? Amorales has been creating “liquid archives” since 1999, a library of digital images composed of black or red drawings that can be oriented in different positions. These graphic elements, human or animal silhouettes, are used in his sculptures, installations, and animated films. A strange atmosphere of black images on a white background crackles and breaks apart, the outlines of different nations disperse, evoking the world’s dislocation. In Black Cloud (2007), the artist invaded the exhibition space with a swarm of black paper butterflies attached to the walls and the furniture.

Carlos Amorales’ work has been internationally exhibited in many museums. He has had solo exhibitions at the MUCA in Mexico City (2006), at the MALBA in Buenos Aires (2010), the Museo Amparo in Pueblo, Mexico (2010), and the Exhibition Palace of Rome, (2010). He created the entire descriptive labeling system for the Liverpool Biennial in 2010.

Why do we write laws? This is the question to which Carlos Amorales has attempted to respond during his residency at MAC/VAL. He printed the entire length of the French civil code in erasable ink and presents a video of interviews with French lawyers about the consequences of the erasure of various articles from the code. The spectator can flip through, consult and read all four volumes of the code — some 3000 pages printed in ink that gradually fades and disappears as each visitor touches it.

During his stay in Vitry-sur-Seine, Amorales visited several law offices and invited their lawyers to reflect upon the meaning of writing law. In this sense, his art poses questions about the legal foundations of our society, the meaning and the implications of the abolition of particular laws. His outsider’s perspective allows him to point out the stakes and the contradictions of our written laws like the manner in which politics can intervene in legislation and the law’s effect upon our perception of history, with, for example, France’s laws meant to combat Holocaust deniers.

Tomás Espina

Tomás Espina was born in Buenos Aires in 1975 and currently lives and works in Cordoba and Buenos Aires. Educated at the Prilidiano Pueyrredon School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires between 1997 and 2002, Espina works in multiple mediums. Through his canvases, installations, performances, and videos, this “pyromaniac” explores the effects of fire and combustion, creating a dialogue between creation and destruction. Espina uses the techniques of drawing with charcoal or powdered graphite in his drawings, perfectly mastering chemical reactions on paper and other supports.

His drawings make references to art history and media images linked to social struggles and police violence. Although some of these references are explicit, as is the case with the photograph S/P&S/T (2001) where the artist takes the place of the laborer in Ernesto de la Carcova’s Without Bread or Work, or in the painting June 26, 2002 (The Lances), which reinterprets photojournalism from the Avellaneda Massacre, Espina’s images also aim for a certain universality.

His 2008 video Ignition shows the process of burning drawings of birds and the engraving-like images that are left behind after the smoke has cleared, drawings that are issue from the performance. The sheer number of birds and their burning references the terror of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film. When the spectator enters Cloud, a 2009 installation created in the gallery of the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, they are thrown into an unusual emotional state, enveloped by a cloudy sky created by the combustion of the ceiling itself.

Tomás Espina frequently shows his work in Latin America and in the United States. He has been exhibited by the Ignacio Liprandi gallery in Buenos Aires, and at many international fairs (Zona MACO in Mexico City and ARCO in Madrid, both in 2011). Welcoming this young, emerging artist of the Argentine scene at MAC/VAL has allowed his work to resonate with the artists in the permanent collection, upon the question of combustion in Christian Jaccard’s work as well as the social activism in the art of Antonio Segui, Melik Ohanian, and others.

At MAC/VAL Espina wanted to collaborate with Martin Coridano, another Argentine artist, to explore the notion of property. Who owns a place, and who is foreign to it? Together, they posed questions about the historical and geographical distribution of housing across territories in connection with local social activist networks. They developed their idea from a theatrical text by Robert Espina, The Owner.

“Dominio” recreates an interior that has been destroyed and then completely repaired and glued back together. The spectator can see the traces of past violence without being able to tell what exactly happened, whether the damage was the result of an accident or a natural disaster. This creates the feeling of uneasiness that often results from being in a place where one loses one’s usual points of orientation.

94 Val-de-Marne Zoom in 94 Val-de-Marne Zoom out

Place de la Libération

94400 Vitry-sur-Seine

T. 01 43 91 64 20


Opening hours

Tuesday – Friday, noon – 6 PM
Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25

Admission fee

Full rate €5.00 — Concessions €2,5

Entrée gratuite pour tous les premiers dimanches de chaque mois

Venue schedule

The artists

  • Carlos Amorales
  • Tomas Espina
  • Martin Cordiano