Carlos Motta, Artist

Essay | The art practice of Carlos Motta and the archive as a tool for re-enactment and communication

March 17, 2016

The art practice of Carlos Motta and the archive as tool for re-enactment and communication
by Stefanie B. Kogler
School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex, Colchester, UK

This essay discusses the practice of contemporary, multidisciplinary artist Carlos Motta (Colombia/USA), who explores history, politics, religion, sexuality, and gender in the context of today’s democracy, and from the view of side-lined groups and their subjective views. Approaching this topic from a distinctly leftist political field, Motta critiques democracy as a political framework that imposes the rule of the majority upon minorities, who are obliged to adhere to hegemonic norms that determine their way of economic, social, and political engagement. Motta’s strategy traverses extensive research and the formation of online archives through which he establishes carefully curated repositories that critique power relations and the hegemony of the majority. He furthermore, uses documents from the archive to reenact and re-contextualize historical events in contemporary settings. This multifaceted approach contributes to the creation of multiple voices that are in dialogue with each other. As a result, the artist’s practice underlines the significance of archives and their contingency for the future, as well as their potential to provoke change. This essay argues that Motta uses the archive as a tool for communication and impetus for action. Through this artist’s contribution to contemporary art, he unearths pressing issues concerning unequal power relations, opening avenues for discussion and debate.

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