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Chicano Artist Explores Sound Art in Mexico City

Flores studies art and technology in Mexico City on a fellowship from Connecticut College
By The News · 26 of October 2016 09:03:48
Juan Flores is a recently graduated sound artist in Mexico City, No available, photo: Courtesy of Juan Flores

LA CHILANGA BANDA

“Since my senior year, my art practice has become everything. Daily life has turned into art,” said recent Mexico City transplant Juan Flores.

As he’s moved from painting into more conceptual performance and technology-based art, he explains that the process of making the art has in many ways become the art itself, allowing for public interventions and dialogue. 

Juan, who has been in the city for just a few months, just recently graduated from Connecticut College, where he received a Mortimer Hayes-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship Award to study technology and art, mainly through experimental sound and noise art.

Juan went to high school in San Antonio, Texas and it was during his sophomore year that he began imagining the possibilities of working as an artist. In an arts after-school program, he got a foundation in painting, muralism, and ceramic mosaic. While there, he met mentor and chicano artist Alex Rubio.

In his last year of high school he was commissioned to do an 11 x 40 ft mural with ceramic tiles — which he cut and fired in a kiln himself at the site of an HEB supermarket. He created a collage of buildings, representative of the distinct architecture of the east side of San Antonio.

The next year he found himself at Connecticut College, a liberal arts college in New London, Connecticut. There he explored other media through the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology.

His senior work explored conceptions of the borderland. Using theorists like Gloria Anzaldúa, he explored the liminality and in-betweenness that she reveals in the process of migration but that Juan says can be transposed onto many experiences in multiple geographies. “It’s not limited to one space. Not geographically specific, its conceptual.”

Juan’s arrival to these theories was “serendipitous.” He interned with San Antonio based artist, Adriana Corral and she introduced him to different ways of understanding the Latino subjectivity. “The conversations with her were the best part of the internship,” he says. It was there that he read Anzaldúa, and “gained the vocabulary to explain the immigrant experience. To explain the emptiness or the void.”

Later, he studied abroad in Berlin where he thought about these ideas in relation to the Berlin Wall, interested in the dualities and antagonisms that the symbolic barrier created with people so close.

After, he moved to Spain for the summer to intern with well-known artist Daniel Canogar.

When asked about living in Mexico he said, “There’s so much going on, so much inspiration. Coming here was very unplanned. But it was a very instinctual decision. It felt like a natural next step.”

Through his fellowship he plans to explore the Mexican use of technology and music, specifically sound art and experimental music and in what ways it reflects a particular social and political juncture. Juan has been working closely with experimental art space Umbral, where he performed just a few months ago. Umbral puts on experimental sound events and is celebrating its third anniversary this weekend. 

He says he’s not sure what the next few years hold. He is looking forward to an exhibition in Alex Rubio’s Rubio gallery in February and then, he hopes, back to Berlin.