Carlos Motta is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work draws upon political history in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities. His work is known for its engagement with histories of queer culture and activism and for its insistence that the politics of sex and gender represent an opportunity to articulate definite positions against social and political injustice.
Motta's work has been presented internationally in venues such as Tate Modern, London; The New Museum, The Guggenheim Museum and MoMA/PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá; Museu Serralves, Porto; Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson; San Francisco Art Institute; Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City; and many other public, private and independent spaces throughout the world.
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The Nefandus Trilogy (2013) explores the imposition of European epistemological categories onto native cultures during the Spanish and Portuguese Conquest of the Americas. This projects includes photographs, sculptures and a video, all of which address subjects that were deemed "exotic," "wild," or "native".
The project's central axis is Nefandus (2013) a narrative video that investigates pre-Hispanic (homo)sexuality. While it has been widely documented that the conquistadores used sex as a weapon of domination of indigenous populations, little is known about the homoerotic indigenous traditions. How did the Christian morality, as taught by the Catholic missions and propagated through war during the Conquest, transform the natives' relationship with sex? Nefandus, Latin for impious, abominable, or unnamable, was a common word used in Colonial Latin America in reference to sin. A pecado nefando (unspeakable sin) was a transgressive crime of sexual nature, such as sodomy, which was severely judged and punished. The video suggests that constructions of sexuality and the body can't be projected onto cultures whose traditions and histories remain unknown and have been mediated by European classifications.
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Six Acts: An Experiment in Narrative Justice (2010) is set against the 2010 presidential election campaign in Colombia, and is based on a series of performative actions in public squares in Bogotá. Six actors of different social and ethnic backgrounds read peace speeches originally delivered by six Colombian liberal and left-wing political leaders (Jorge Eliécer Gaitán,Luis Carlos Galán, Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa, Jaime Pardo Leal, Carlos Pizarro and Rafael Uribe Uribe) who were assassinated in the last 100 years because of their political ideology.
These "acts" focused on the need to remember the systematic elimination of voices that have dared to oppose the ruling order by articulating their differing points of view and that have denounced by name those responsible for Colombia's repetitive history of political corruption and violence. Drawing upon the notion of "narrative justice;" that is, justice from the perspective of an aesthetic experience instead of a normative concept, this work offers an exercise of collective memory to underscore its transformative potential.