Uncertain Identities

Gallery 2 - Downstairs
28 November - 19 December 2014


Marianne Halter & Mario Marchisella, Felipe Mujica, Cat Tuong Nguyen, Adán Vallecillo, Herbert Weber


Carroll / Fletcher is pleased to present Uncertain Identities, a curatorial exchange with Christinger De Mayo Gallery in Zürich, Switzerland.


Observing a global shift in migration behaviours, American academic Nina Glick-Schiller developed the term ‘transmigrant’ in the early 90s to define an emerging social group.  According to Glick-Schiller, “Transmigrants can be defined as international migrants who, facing precarious claims in a country of settlement, develop and maintain a network of connections linked to people of common ancestry across international borders while simultaneously settling in a new country.”


In the first issue of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power (1994), Glick-Schiller pointed out that issues of identity and culture had emerged as central to “the current historical moment” and that the journal wanted to “explore the relationship between racial, ethnic and power hierarchies within national and global arenas, [and] the multiple processes by which cultural representation, domination and resistance are embedded in social relationships.”


Twenty years later, globalisation, combined with the shift towards post-imperial metropolitan centres continue to change the post-Cold War world. In exploring these profound shifts, the artistic practices showcased in this exhibition meditate on the uncertainty of identity, reflecting our uneasy relationship to place.


Born in Vietnam and raised in Switzerland, artist Cat Tuong Nguyen (b. 1969) uses graphite rubbing, an important tool for documentation in 19th and 20th century archaeology to reveal insights into his country of origin. The artist took rubbings of artefacts found in his native country: in bunkers, hotels, at the beach, the presidential palace and the street market. Each rubbing aims to delineate history, representing a search for evidence of the past. In light of the diffuse and nebulous character of the events leading up to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the artist finds and traces this history through objects left behind in an archaeology of signs. 


In Marianne Halter (b. 1970) & Mario Marchisella's (b. 1972) video, The Conductor’s Fear of the Soloist – Ten Small Pieces for Violin, two cultural modes of expression meet: the daily chaos of a minibus station in Johannesburg where bystanders try to ease the flow of traffic by conducting it expressively through hand signals, and the musical performance of Mario Marchisella, a European classical violinist, reading the gestures as his cues to play.


Influenced by language theory and performative speech, Herbert Weber (b. 1975), stages himself within his photography as a means of self-questioning. His works are both a stage and a laboratory where he performs particular acts in order to find answers to life’s big questions. The eight works in the exhibition together trace his investigations.


Felipe Mujica’s (b. 1974)seemingly abstract ‘curtain’ works are in fact meditations on politics, promise and migration. His work seeks to re-examine the possibilities of Latin American Modernism and its failings. Through a series of collaborations, his work also constantly questions the notion of authorship. Mujica’s hanging fabrics aim to establish a new way of reading the history of ideas connected to Latin America, one that is neither linear nor precise nor complete, and perpetuates the same spirit of artistic and political experimentation.


Similarly, the work of Adán Vallecillo (b. 1977) seeks to understand local social phenomena. Vallecillo’s film Estudios del Paisaje or ‘Studies in Landscape’ centres on the Amatitlán Lake in Guatemala, at once both beautiful and heavily polluted. No longer the wealthy beach resort of its heyday, it is still a popular day out for many poorer families visiting from Guatemala City. As Dan Cameron, curator of the last California-Pacific Triennial, notes: “Adán Vallecillo’s works explore the physiology of the dispossessed. Often employing typically discarded materials such as extracted carious teeth, recycled rubber tubes, or samples of soil from different landfills, Vallecillo explores the politics of poverty, ecology, and sociology of the different regions and social groups… and the influence of Eurocentric values upon them.”