An Emphasis on Resistance: 2019 CIFO Grants & Commissions Program Exhibition 

On View October 30, 2019 – Febrary 2, 2020 

In partnership with CIFO, El Museo del Barrio will host newly commissioned works of awardees: Emerging Artists – Susana Pilar Delahante, María José Machado, Claudia Martínez Garay, and Oscar Abraham Pabón; Mid-Career Artists – Leyla Cárdenas, Ana Linnemann, Yucef Merhi, and Nicolas Paris; and Achievement Award recipient – Cecilia Vicuña. An important catalyst for the presentation of new works and a meaningful platform for advanced research on Latinx and Latin American art, this collaboration between CIFO and El Museo del Barrio aims to consider the act of resistance in both Latin America and in its diaspora.

The annual Grants & Commissions Program, now in its 17th iteration and CIFO’s signature initiative, is an embodiment of the foundation’s mission to foster, support, and exhibit innovative work by Latin American artists. Nominated by an esteemed group of curators, the awarded artists exemplify the breadth and depth of contemporary art production throughout Latin America, engaging with diverse contemporary themes across media including video, performance, multimedia installation, sculpture, and found material, among others. 


Leyla Cárdenas

Leyla Cárdenas (Colombia) presents a video-installation in which she unravels the weft of the projection screen leaving the warp as a stratigraphic metaphor of the ghostly connotation of both architectural vestiges and natural geology.

“For me, it’s inevitable to see the objects of the world as ruins of what they used to be. An analogy with the work of the amateur archaeologist can be made. I learn more about my work by undoing instead of doing, de-constructing instead of constructing. The materials that I interact with are literally vestiges of a fragmented reality”. – Leyla Cárdenas.

Susana Pilar Delahante

Susana Pilar Delahante (Cuba) presents a performance that explores the footprint of the African diaspora in the Caribbean through her own family history.

“Some elements interconnect all my works. First, my concern to distinguish what is real from what is supposed to be. Realities that are hidden by socially generated structures to interrupt their knowledge. These are the reasons why I often use art as a way to propose forms to access those realities. Physical history and the expressive potential of the body are also important to me”. –Susana Pilar Delahante.

Ana Linnemann

Ana Linnemann (Brazil) establishes circuits with an ongoing series of works to build up her project, a conducting wooden structure, in which artistic labor-related objects and tools, are brought into life by electrical connections.

”My work’s existence is conditional upon a sort of a melting point, one in which meanings behave as if in a liquid state. The idea is always to adjust, within a single object, elements coming from unrelated fields of experience – such as my favorite pair of sneakers and slicing a potato – and to juggle the identity issues which this interplay engenders. Thus, by removing the viewer from the comfort of habit, to create an estrangement from everyday objects and activities”. – Ana Linnemann.

María José Machado

María José Machado (Ecuador) puts her fingers on the sore spots of society by approaching life in prison populations through a relational type of work, workshops and photographic documentation around the embodiment of freedom allegories.

“I use myself as interface of creation, as a logistic tool, as a mean of communication; my body is a possibility and a choice to look for a non-colonizing art, I use spaces that I can inhabit. I mediate the public space as a right to hack the blind spots of cities”. – María José Machado.

Claudia Martínez Garay

Claudia Martínez Garay (Peru) creates a graphic installation, a mix of diverse images evoking oppression and insurrection, dictatorship and rebellion, in Latin American history.

“Already existing imagery is a fundamental trigger in my work, it’s a way of revisiting and questioning the past, and try to understand it for what it left, and speculate from what is absent or unknown. From this imagery I experiment different forms of reproduction, transformation and reinterpretation; this is made through processes of erasing, deconstruction or reconfiguration. This moment of (un)recognizing what you’ve already seen/know, in that specific moment of simultaneous contradiction is where I want to situate my work”. – Claudia Martínez Garay

Yucef Merhi

Yucef Mehri (Venezuela) work addresses social, political, and philosophical issues in the contemporary world. His project presents an immersive installation comprised by official reports, testimonies, and leaked data from the No Fly list, a list created and maintained by the United States federal government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).

“I have been exploring the interconnections between language and technology, creating interactive environments, computer based works and digital applications, while proposing various ways to experience natural language and code. The comprehension of this duet led me to develop methods and machines in order to address social, political, and philosophical issues”. –Yucef Merhi.

Oscar Abraham Pabón

Oscar Abraham Pabón (Venezuela) presents an interactive intervention of a grand piano using recycled materials to create a precarious sounding board similar to an informal house.

“In recent years sculptural and installative proposals have been recurrent in my work. In this context a music related new type of art emerges, becoming a subject of speculative nature around different social, political and cultural matters that give rise to this type of artistic work. The fact of working with music points to a form of matter that has little to do with a visual presence”. –Oscar Abraham Pabón.

Nicolas Paris

Nicolás Paris (Colombia) presents a modular and changing installation attached to the architectural space that examines the classroom as an idea and engages the active role of the public.

“Central to my practice is the role of classroom structures and pedagogical strategies. I worked as a schoolteacher in rural Colombia for a number of years before dedicating myself to art, which allowed me to live the experience of teaching as well as to be aware of the importance of developing systems to resignify the educational processes. This has become a major topic of my artistic projects in which I employ and speculate with pedagogical tactics within the exhibition context in order to encourage collaborative, open-ended research with participant/spectators in laboratory-like environments”. “…for me, the artistic work is not an end-result in and of itself, but rather a starting point and catalyst for a more elusive, ephemeral and polyvalent experience”. –Nicolás Paris.


Cecilia Vicuña

Cecilia Vicuña (Chile) has embraced the concept of the quipu, a tactile and spatial metaphor for the interconnection of the body and the cosmos since the mid 60’s. In Quipu Akon Onethe acclaimed artist speaks from the spiritual core of Andean poetics associating the thread of water with the thread of life. The Quipu is constructed with unspun wool. Nothing holds it together, symbolizing the fluidity and fragility of water. The piece mirrors the disappearance of the glaciers in the Andes due to global warming, and the policies that favor mining over the preservation of water. It merges wool and wounded ice as a prayer, calling us to mobilize into urgent climate action to preserve the future of water.

“My art emerged from the unbound imagination of an Andean mestiza girl that refused censorship. In the late sixties, I came across the concept of the quipu and immediately embraced it, creating “the quipu that remembers nothing”, a political statement on cultural erasure”. “For me, making quipus is an act of poetic resistance to colonization, a way of seeding with memory a different future for humanity”. –Cecilia Vicuña.