Ongoing Exhibit (Until March 12, 2023)

Carolina Caycedo: Apariciones/Apparitions

Wengren Gallery

Carolina Caycedo: Apariciones/Apparitions, a 2018 film by London-born Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo, follows a group of Afro-Latinx, Indigenous, and queer individuals as they wander The Huntington Art Galleries, Library, and Botanical Gardens, in Pasadena, California. In this haunting video, the performers revive Black, Brown, and queer experiences that remain absent or buried throughout The Huntington’s collection of European and American art, libraries of rare books and manuscripts, and sculpture-lined gardens. While set at The Huntington, Aparciones/Apparitions engages with deCordova, a site similarly founded on a private residence with expansive natural terrain. The video’s connections to deCordova inspirations contemplation on a museum’s role in the representation of culture and critical reflection of their own historical and natural landscapes.

The video cuts between scenes of the performers silently staring into the camera, blissfully twirling with fishnets, to violently shaking as if possessed by supernatural forces. Their movements, at times fluid and strained, are suggestive of spiritual practices of the Candomblé religion and the goddess Oxúm, an Afro-Brazilian deity of water, pleasure, fertility, and sexuality. Caycedo intersperses these scenes with still images of labor from The Huntington’s archive. These flashing moments between past and present are overlaid with whispers and airy breaths that insinuate an invisible, yet palpable presence in the museum’s hallowed halls.

Apariciones/Apparitions resurfaces the underrecognized histories of race, labor, and sexuality at The Huntington. The dancers’ ghostly occupation within the museum’s whitewashed, Eurocentric spaces identifies the simultaneous existence and erasure of people of color in art, history, and cultural institutions. Their fishnet props and reenactments of labor rituals, like tilling land and washing gold, also acknowledge racialized people’s often overlooked contributions to the founding of museums. Through their entrancing stares, the performers impart onto viewers and institutions a sense of accountability – encouraging us to reflect on our fraught pasts to improve our future.

About the Artist

An interdisciplinary artist, Carolina Caycedo was born to Colombian parents in London in 1978, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work explores the themes of asymmetrical power relations, dispossession, extraction of resources, and environmental justice. Caycedo also often works in community-based collaborations that interrogate environmental and historical memory.

Caycedo has exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston, MA (2020); Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago, IL (2019); the Museum de Arte Sao Paulo, Brazil (2019); the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2018); the Whitney Museum of Art, New York City, NY (2018); among other institutions around the world.

Main Image Credit: Carolina Caycedo, Apariciones/Apparitions, 2018, 1 channel HD video, sound and color, 09:30, Jointly owned by The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens and the Vincent Price Art Museum Foundation. Purchased for The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens with funds from The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation. © Carolina Caycedo

Art On View