Jun 25th 2021

Ambientes: Places After Time

@ Heaven Gallery

1550 N Milwaukee Ave, Floor 2, Chicago, IL 60622

Opening Friday, June 25th, from 7PM - 11PM

On view through Sunday, August 1st

Curators: Xavier Robles Armas

With artists: Itzel Basualdo, William Camargo, Alejandro Jimenez-Flores, Meli Marie Nava, Xavier Robles Armas , Nancy Sanchez, Stephen Signa-Aviles

Opening Day: Friday, 7/25 1-6PM with a reception from 7–11PM
No reservation needed. Mask required


What does it mean to locate a place and in turn point towards its horizon. How do we account for a ‘present’ reality, when it is often inevitably shifting. The fragments of our everyday allow there to be no present time and yet we are always looking towards a future––screens sharing news from other countries situated in a different time, apps reminding us of things “a year ago today” and neighborhoods changing with a blink of an eye. What is there to hold on to?

There is no time to be nostalgic anymore.

This leads me to questions of reality and its consistent inconsistency. The precarious nature of reality drives forth this exhibition. If reality does not always manifest truth then what can we turn to? The series of artists presented in Ambientes: places after time investigate the everyday as a way to imagine and propel a new way of looking. A stasis of always looking and already found. If reality is not always accurate, then what do we really have? By looking for and towards enchantmented, spells, ritual and magic; we can better orient ourselves towards alternative methods of co-existing and looking. Such an orientation beyond what is real, what is tangible and yet what can be in place, a shift driven by “working it out” and what possibly can occur and already is.

When thinking about photographs we have to account for the environment in which both the photographer and the subject(s) are implicated––non-static environments. I turn to Ben Anderson’s affective atmospheres as a way to orient the discussion and to address the methods of making inspiring this group of artists to come together. A self awareness implicated in affective atmospheres is what allows such artists to generate the work presented in the exhibition. Ben describes these spaces as often being in flux, made of multiple elements, and folding in and from each other, never at rest and never absolute. He notes “As such, to attend to affective atmospheres is to learn to be affected by the ambiguities of affect/emotion, by that which is determinate and indeterminate, present and absent, singular and vague.” Through awareness of self and a quiet breath, we attune to the always moving environments. Inevitably though we are only visitors folding into one another as others fold into us, searching for a place we’re already out of. A self-hood liminally placed in a placeless bicameral state of thought. We turn to the ritual of making, the magic of a place, the quiet breath of the shutter and the everyday to ground ourselves, to examine new possibilities of looking, being and living. In flux we find ourselves with music from ‘los tiempos viejos’, manual labor, shedding hair, loud plastic, sizzling food, warmth, Ghosts and organic substances.

Although time may be relative, there is almost always a personal sense of time. It is that moment of when to click the shutter, it is the moment of knowing when to cry, it is the moment of when to wear that outfit and when to walk home or when to take a car. It is that moment of when to talk and when to sigh and when to blink and when to cross the invisible neighborhood line. Oftentimes this personal sense of time guides how we navigate the world and how we approach our method of making. Already out of place, already placeless. Such are our collective Ambientes: Places After Time. And yet I ask: what does it mean to exist in this state of transition, a constant state of looking, inventing, and realizing. A practice of placelessness.


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