Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa “Asymmetries” at The Power Plant, Toronto
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa produces sculptures, performance works and paintings that draw on literature, Latin American history, folklore, contemporary conspiracy theories and childhood memories. Referring to traumatic or tragic events — in particular Guatemala’s civil war (1960—96), which forced Ramírez-Figueroa and certain members of his family to immigrate to Vancouver as refugees in the 1980s — his works are imbued with a playful, sometimes dream-like quality. Using both sculptural objects and his body, Ramírez-Figueroa creates scenarios and installations that bring to light unbalanced power relationships in the history of Guatemala and beyond.
“Asymmetries” encompasses works from the past decade in addition to three new commissions. In two new sculptures, Ramírez-Figueroa reimagines the narratives of traditional and colonial objects — specifically, the Wardian case and the cacaxte — in relation to his own history, investigating the ways in which personal and cultural identities might expand and evolve over time. Heart of the Scarecrow, a newly commissioned performance video, looks back at the staging of a play of the same name by Guatemalan playwright Hugo Carrillo (1929 – 1994). Upon learning that a version of the same play involving Ramírez-Figueroa’s uncle was violently censored by the 1975 Guatemalan government, the artist became interested in its anti-establishment message, reimagining it several times in different media and locales. For the iteration at The Power Plant, Ramírez-Figueroa restages the production at the Universidad Popular in Guatemala City, the original site of the censorship.
The artist’s reimagining of these objects and stories calls to attention what has been lost, manipulated or left out of the colonizer’s history. Simultaneously, Ramírez-Figueroa’s artworks evoke the burdens that are carried — collectively and individually, physically and psychologically — and underline the importance of the imagination in overcoming them.
Curator: Lauren Barnes; assistant curator: Justine Kohleal.
At The Power Plant, Toronto
until 7 September 2020