Fabian González

Fabián González

For this residency we premiered the first Chapter of the ongoing project “Sisifo is not fake news¨.  Follow @sisifo_is_not_fake_news to watch the entire series.   

Instagram feed of Sisifo_is_not_fake_news

This conceptual, time-based project is mediated through Instagram, using the handle @sisifo_is_not_fake_news. Inspired by writer Albert Camus’ interpretation of the greek myth of Sisyphus (Sisifo in spanish) as an allegory for the absurdity of modern life, Fabián extends this to our contemporary moment. Fabián encourages us to question the absurdity of our relationships to the memetic circulation of information through social media, consumer culture, and increasingly propagandistic news sources. Releasing the first chapter of this new series launched for Hot Wheelz, we witness the manifestation of Sisyphus’ boulder, and we are confronted with what Fabián calls the “tireless return” of the meaningless task. He adds, Sisifo is not Fake News “encourages us to become aware in order to be able to live and fight. It keeps us in a state of rebellion so we can seek new challenges every day.” 


Este proyecto conceptual está mediado por Instagram a través de la cuenta @sisifo_is_not_fake_news. Inspirado por la interpretación del escritor Alberto Camus sobre el mito griego sobre Sísifo como una alegoría de lo absurda que resulta vida moderna, Fabián entiende esta interpretación al presente. Fabián invita a preguntarnos sobre lo absurdo de nuestras relaciones con la circulación de la información en redes sociales, cultura de consumo y las fuentes propagandísticas de noticias. El primer episodio de esta serie de videos será presentado en Hot Wheelz y muestra la manifestación de la roca que carga Sísifo mientras nos confrontamos con lo que Fabián llama el agotador retorno de la tarea sin sentido. El artista añade que Sísifo is not fake news “nos invita a volvernos más conscientes para poder vivir y resistir. Esto nos mantiene en un estado de rebelión para que busquemos nuevos retos cada día.”

Click here to see more of Fabian’s animations. 

Fabián González is a multimedia artist born and living in Havana, Cuba. Working in painting, animation, and installation, his works question the relationship between the virtual and the real. A recent graduate of the influential Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Cuba, his work has been exhibited in independent and artist-run spaces in Havana and Chicago. González Escobar is part of the collaborative digital media duo F.M.7

Fabián González es un artista cubano multimedia que vive en La Habana. Trabaja con pintura, animación e instalaciones de arte, y sus trabajos cuestionan la relación entre lo virtual y lo real. Se graduó del Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) en La Habana, Cuba, y sus obras han sido expuestas en espacios independientes de artistas en La Habana y en Chicago. González Escobar es parte del colectivo de medios digitales F.M.7.

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