Eliane Adela Padron Page

Eliane Adela Padrón

La mesa está servida, digital photograph, 2020

La mesa está servida, purchase and withdrawal receipts from MLC stores, 2020 

[Spanish translation available below]


La mesa está servida: The practice where those living and working abroad send money to support families back home is for many a necessary, challenging, and common part of life throughout the world. In Cuba these transactions are called remesas, and are estimated to result in billions of dollars sent annually through informal channels. New stores called MLCs or Moneda Libremente Convertible, (literally translated “freely convertible currency”) have been established to both process these foreign currencies through government institutions and to impede local chaos in the midst of the current international crisis due to COVID-19. The artist’s fee provided by this festival allowed Eliane access to shop for food in these MLC stores, the image and ephemera above documents Eliane’s experience. Promoted as having higher quality foods, we see the reality of the options available. These new stores have generated indignation among many Cubans and because many residents don’t have access to foreign currency, these stores reinforce the inequality that already existed among Cubans. We see what she describes as “ the harsh conditions of the country in the middle of a pandemic and as a result of the scarce financial infrastructure for more than 50 years.” In this struggle, scarcity is the main plate. 


Acimos: Originally intended to be included in her thesis exhibition at the culmination of her studies at the National Art Schools in Cuba (ISA), the 3D renderings and videos below re-engage Foucoult’s ideas of ‘territories of others” as counter-spaces within society that offer utopic manifestations by subverting and contesting normative assumptions. These works present what Eliane calls “a porous, open, hybrid meeting point.” Google translates Acimos to ‘ages’ but in this context it is the name of a popular, yet hard-to-bake bread. In Eliane’s work we see the method and an imagined presentation of the different stages of making bread dough from its base mixture (flour and water). Each “raw mass” compound is different according to its specific consistency and viscosity, so that each of them will obtain a unique and unrepeatable shape. This project lives currently as a speculative plan waiting for an unknown time and future. 

Transfiguración de un lugar común, 2020

La mesa está servida: El fenómeno de vivir, trabajar y enviar dinero desde el extranjero a la familia en el país de origen representa para muchos una parte de la vida común, necesaria y desafiante. En Cuba estas transacciones son llamadas remesas, y se estima que el total de remesas enviadas anualmente por canales informales es alrededor de los billones de dólares. Las nuevas tiendas de Moneda Libremente Convertible han sido establecidas para procesar divisas extranjeras por medio de instituciones gubernamentales y para impedir el caos local en medio de la actual crisis internacional causada por el COVID-19. El honorario de artista otorgado a Eliane para este festival, le permitió comprar productos de las tiendas MLC, y la imagen de arriba documenta el proceso de Eliane. Promocionados como productos de alta calidad, vemos la realidad de las opciones disponibles. Estas nuevas tiendas han generado la indignación de muchos cubanos y debido a que muchos residentes no tienen acceso a monedas extranjeras, estas tiendas sólo han reforzado la desigualdad que ya existía en la isla. Vemos lo que Eliane describe como “las duras condiciones de un país en medio de una pandemia y como resultado de la escasa infraestructura financiera que el país ha tenido por más de 50 años”. En estas circunstancias, la precariedad es el plato fuerte. 


Ácimos: Originalmente realizados para ser incluídos en su exposición final de graduación del Instituto Superior de Arte, los visuales 3D y los videos que se presentan aquí abajo aluden a la idea de Foucault sobre los “territorios de los otros” como contra-espacios en la sociedad que ofrecen manifestaciones utópicas al subvertir y contestar asunciones normativas. Estos trabajos presentan lo que Eliane llama “puntos de encuentros porosos, abiertos e híbridos”. Vemos el método y la presentación de las diferentes etapas que toma hacer este tipo de pan, ácimos, desde su mezcla base de agua y harina. Cada capa de masa cruda es diferente dependiendo de su viscosidad y consistencia, y así cada una es por lo tanto una forma única e irrepetible. Este proyecto no se ha podido llevar a cabo debido a la pandemia en el espacio de la galería en el cual estaba previsto, sin embargo la obra ha tomado otra forma por los momento y la artista quiso compartir el proceso en esta residencia. 

Eliane Adela Padrón is a visual artist from Havana, Cuba. Using visual art, performance, and installation, her minimal works engage revealing or obfuscating the artistic process. These bodies of work use repetition and symbolic reference to question paradigms of meaning, ownership, and representation. A 2020 graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba, her work has been exhibited in independent and artist run spaces in Havana and Chicago.

Eliane Adela Padrón es una artista visual de La Habana, Cuba. Se sirve del arte visual, la performance y la instalación para revelar o complicar el proceso artístico. Sus obras utilizan la repetición y referencias simbólicas para cuestionar paradigmas de sentido, propiedad y representación. Se graduó en el 2020 del Instituto Superior de Arte en La Habana, Cuba, y su trabajo ha sido expuesto en espacios de arte independientes en La Habana y en Chicago.

Jackson Margolis’s Scratching the Surface Membrane is a two-volume zine series that covers the life of the artist dealing with chronic pain and isolation over the course of 2019 and 2020. Volume 2 will go up on Thursday, July 7th, so please return to this page to view the complete collection. In these works, Margolis, who has a history with the furry community, speaks to identity politics through fetishism. Scratching underscores a tension between fantasy and the self: each zine is a year-long anthology of honest projections of the artist reimagined as anthropomorphized dragons. By juxtaposing truth and fantasy in this way, Margolis seems to question the very core of how we understand identity and realness. What is more real: how we see ourselves or how others see us? 


Many of the images in Scratching are sketches upcycled from the margins of readings and notebooks, simultaneously capturing Margolis’s artistic process and representing intimate and candid moments of self-expression. Even the title, Scratching the Surface Membrane, touches on the sheer spontaneity of this piece, which can be best described as a non-literal, superficial exploration of thoughts and ideas surrounding identity without an outside perspective. As such, the zines are fundamentally diaristic, chronicling the artist’s evolving sense of self over time. This change, for example, can be traced through the difference in style of the dragons depicted in the two volumes. In Volume 1, the dragons grab at their marshmallowy bodies, emphasizing their plushness and roundness. Although the softness of the dragons remains an important hallmark of Margolis’s style, in Volume 2, one can observe a far greater presence of angular snouts and muscular bodies as well as less pronounced breasts. This transformation in the dragons’ forms serves as a thought record narrating the artist’s own journey starting Hormone Replacement Therapy in 2020. 


However, Scratching is just as much a regression as it is a progression. Driven by nostalgia, sentimentality and comfort, Margolis’s work encourages us to connect with our primal child and hug our inner monsters. In fact, this motif is seen literally through the zines where dragons are often portrayed hugging what can be interpreted as their partners, spirits, or twins. At the same time, while Margolis clearly draws influence from contemporary subcultures and the digital age, the artist’s inspirations can also be traced back to antiquity. In particular, Margolis cites the Paleolitihic Lion Man as one of the earliest instances of people showing that they are capable of imagination. So, anthropomorphism becomes a pure form of fantasy that can be traced throughout human culture and time. For Margolis, though, anthropomorphism is not only a way to connect to broader human history but also to the artist’s own past. Margolis recalls being a hyper-imaginative child, obsessed with drawing fantasy creatures, especially dragons, over and over. Thus, the work of Scratching is at once a moving forward and a revisiting. The temporality of the piece becomes jumbled, asking us to consider how memories and histories shape our presents and futures. Similarly, how does drawing the same image over and over for a year represent both the passing and stopping of time? 


–Afriti Bankwalla, curator 

Pay attention to this space. What do you notice? What assumptions do you make about the person who lives here? Bedrooms are complicated, intimate spaces that mirror ourselves back to us and anyone who sees them. They are where we feel ourselves (and others) the most, where we smell ourselves the most, and where we see ourselves the most. Literally, we see ourselves in our mirrors when getting ready; more abstractly, we do so in the scattered objects that reveal our styles, hobbies, and pasts. How do we root ourselves in our bedrooms and the objects that fill them? More specifically, how do such objects and spaces evoke performances through which our ever-evolving identity is constructed? What are the performances we play out every day, whether there is an audience present or not? In what way is our identity an extension of these performances? 


The artists featured in In My Room approach these questions with works that attempt to track personal growth and changing identities over time. Scratching the Surface Membrane by Jackson Margolis is the artist’s exploration of the self through anthropomorphic dragons; it features two year’s worth of sketches that juxtapose themes of nostalgia and evolution. In ted bourget’s virtual world, Some Sludge, the audience can roam freely through bourget’s life in Chicago over the course of four seasons. Time flows abstractly in this world, as players swim in Lake Michigan, wait for the bus, and walk through UChicago’s quad with bourget. aza’s art film, Chemtrails, presents a collage of photographic bursts from the artist’s private life as a way of playing with the strange and illicit disruption of time that occurs when one stops to look, assess, and take a selfie. Through their own whimsical variations on self-portraiture, bourget, aza, and Margolis address the difficulty of capturing something as in-flux as our perceptions of ourselves. They surrender linearity and narrativity in favor of an understanding of the past, present, and future as something more circular and connected.  


Each art object in this exhibit also represents a unique understanding of performance and liveness, and by placing them together, In My Room hopes to underscore and bring light to the performances we encounter every day that shape our lives and selves. In her theoretical text Queer Phenomenology, scholar Sara Ahmed posits the social as an arrangement of space. She explains that, even in a dark, hitherto-unexplored room, we find our way due to a basic familiarity with how the social is arranged. We know a room must have walls and a door, so we reach our hand out and feel along the door until we find what feels familiar to us as a doorknob. Ahmed uses this understanding of the social as spatial to riff on the idea of queer identity as an orientation. In what way is our identity a result of the way we are oriented in space and the objects and people towards which we are oriented? 


As you proceed through the exhibit, consider the way you move, consider your activity and engagement with each room. As you click through the pages of Scratching the Surface Membrane, allow yourself to think about the interactivity of flipping through a book. As you explore Some Sludge, think about the ephemerality of playing a video game. Can you ever exactly recreate that experience? As you watch Chemtrails, think about the small spectacle of the film format and of taking a selfie or going out to a club.


Please stay tuned throughout the week, as new content will be added regularly. 


Enormous thank you to Hot Wheelz Festival as well as Jill, Lauren, Jackie, ted, and aza. 


–Afriti Bankwalla, curator 

Jackson Margolis is an interdisciplinary artist who holds a BFA in Drawing from the Pratt Institute and is currently an artist in residence in “parents’ basement”. Jackson’s art is Identity-based work, concerned with themes of tenderness, comfort, regression, fantasy and the apocalypse. Particularly fascinated with American subcultures, Jackson makes use of fetish aesthetics to call attention to online spaces. Depicting what are most easily described as dragons, Jackson’s art asks audiences to connect with their primal child self and hug their inner monsters. Underscored in all of Jackson’s art is a desperate search for energy through color and material. Jackson is currently working on a new project that will deal directly with new-age world hurt, regression during the internet age, and the rabbit hole of the psyche.  


Insta: @lamesaltcrystal