Triennial

The Baltic Triennial Has Brought Together Some of Europe’s Most Promising Emerging Talents—See Images Here


The Baltic, a region typically seen as encompassing Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, has always boasted a dynamic art scene in Europe. One of its foremost contemporary art exhibitions, the Baltic Triennial, taps into that landscape of talent every three years—its 14th edition just opened this June in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Since 1979, the Baltic Triennial has brought together these nations’ diverse yet overlapping art scenes, which were then still a part of the former Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991. As such, the exhibition has long straddled a shifting notion of East and West, offering a unique perspective on Europe.

Appropriately then, this year’s exhibition, which has brought together more than 60 artists from the region and from Central and Western Europe has been organized under the title, “The Endless Frontier.”

Zsofia Keresztes at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Zsofia Keresztes at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Helmed by Valentinas Klimašauskas, curator of the Latvian pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, and Portugese curator João Laia, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki, the show is anchored at the Contemporary Arts Center in the historic center of Vilnius, but spirals outward across various project spaces through the city. Each invited space developed their own autonomously curated projects that overlapped in some way with the core exhibition of the Contemporary Arts Center.

“The Endless Frontier” offers a compelling survey of young and emerging artistic talents, featuring works by Flo Kasearu, Zuzanna Czebatul, and Klara Hosnedlova in the main concourses of the Contemporary Arts Center. Dreamy surrealist paintings and small sculptures from Polish painter Tomasz Kowalski takes over the project space Swallow.

At Rupert, Lithuania’s prominent international artist residency, a group show curated by
Adomas Narkevičius features new works by Kosovo-born artist Flaka Haliti, Karol Radziszewski from Poland, and Finnish artist Jaakko Pallasvuo alongside two historically overlooked artists from Lithuanian’s postwar art scene, photographer Virgilijus Šonta and abstract painter Juta Čeičytė.

The Baltic Triennial 14: The Endless Frontier is on view until August 15, 2021. See images below.

Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Exhibition performance “Who are you?”, Žygimantas Kudirka and felicita at Atletika. Photo: Andrej Vasilenko.

Natalia LL at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Natalia LL at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Klara Hosnedlova at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Karol Radziszewski at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Karol Radziszewski at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Flo Kasearu at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Flo Kasearu at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Works by Zuzanna Czebatul, Jura Shust, and Dominika Trapp at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Works by Zuzanna Czebatul, Jura Shust, and Dominika Trapp at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Works by Flaka Haliti, Zsofia Keresztes, Czebatul, and Danutė-Kvietkevičiūtė at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Works by Flaka Haliti, Zsofia Keresztes, Czebatul, and Danutė-Kvietkevičiūtė at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Works by Agnieszka Polska and Voitech Kovarik at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Works by Emilija Skarnulyte Polska and Voitech Kovarik at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Alex Baczynski Jenkins at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Alex Baczynski Jenkins at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Aleksandra Domanović at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 "The Endless Frontier." Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Aleksandra Domanović at the Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, for the Baltic Triennial 14 “The Endless Frontier.” Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Tomasz Kowalski at Swallow, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda

Tomasz Kowalski at Swallow, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda

Tomasz Kowalski at Swallow, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda

Tomasz Kowalski at Swallow, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda

Exhibition view, ‘Authority Incorporeal’, Rupert Centre for Art, Residencies and Education, 2021.

Exhibition view, ‘Authority Incorporeal’, Rupert Centre for Art, Residencies and Education, 2021. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda

Jaakko Pallasvuo, Miša Skalskis, Rachel McIntosh, Stephen Webb Angels Instead (2020). Photo: Evgenia Levin

Jaakko Pallasvuo, Miša Skalskis, Rachel McIntosh, Stephen Webb Angels Instead (2020). Photo: Evgenia Levin

Žilvinas Dobilas, Jonas Zagorskas I was bored, (2000). Exhibition view, ‘Authority Incorporeal’, Rupert Centre for Art, Residencies and Education, 2021. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda

Žilvinas Dobilas, Jonas Zagorskas I was bored, (2000). Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Anni Puolakka “Feed” at Editorial, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Anni Puolakka "Feed" at Editorial, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

Anni Puolakka “Feed” at Editorial, as a part of the Baltic Triennial 14. Photo: Ugnius Gelguda.

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For Its Major Post-Pandemic Triennial, the New Museum Has Invited 40 Rising Artists to Explore the Theme of Persistence


The 2021 New Museum triennial—the fifth iteration of its signature exhibition of emerging artists—has been in the works since long before the pandemic. But its overarching theme, of tenacity in the face of hardship, will likely feel more relevant than ever when the show opens this fall, well over a year into the pandemic.

The museum announced today that the exhibition, co-organized by Margot Norton, a curator at the New Museum, and Jamillah James, senior curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, is titled “Soft Water Hard Stone.” The name comes from a Brazilian proverb: Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura (“Soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole”).

For the curators, it’s a metaphor for persistence: Even the most inexorable of materials change with time and energy. 

The 40 artists included in the show—a group that represents five continents and nearly all media—the proverb can, occasionally, be read more literally. The transfiguration of discordant materials and ideas will constitute a prominent theme in the exhibition, as will the use of outmoded models and artistic traditions.

Their works exalt states of transformation, calling attention to the malleability of structures, porous and unstable surfaces, and the fluid and adaptable potential of both technological and organic media,” a statement on the triennial reads. 

Ambera Wellmann, <i>UnTurning</i> (2019). Courtesy of the artist and KTZ gallery, Berlin.

Ambera Wellmann, UnTurning (2019). Courtesy of the artist and KTZ gallery, Berlin.

Though all of the artists were born after 1975, the curators say they didn’t look to birth dates for their definition of “emerging artists.”

“We decided that, instead of age, our parameter would be based on exposure,” James tells Midnight Publishing Group News, “so that artists we invited that had not yet had a major solo exhibition in a U.S. museum.” 

Norton and James began research for the Triennial in the summer 2018, logging nearly two year’s worth of travel and in-person studio visits before the pandemic necessitated some improvisation. “When we scheduled our travel, we were interested in visiting locations where it made a difference to be there physically, and in areas where artists are often underrepresented in international exhibitions,” James says, pointing to places such as North Africa, South Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Since then, the curators have “become quite accustomed to the Zoom studio visit, to say the least.” Norton says. “While there is a huge disadvantage to not seeing work in person, we actually found it to be quite efficient to continue our research remotely, particularly as we honed in on the show’s theme, and for the artists whose works we have had the opportunity to see in person prior.” 

Brandon Ndife, <i>Modern Dilemma</i> (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Bureau, New York.

Brandon Ndife, Modern Dilemma (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Bureau, New York.

“Soft Water Hard Stone,” is set to run from October 27, 2021 to January 23, 2022 at the New Museum. See the full list of participating artists below.

  • Haig Aivazian (b. 1980 Beirut, Lebanon; lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon)
  • Evgeny Antufiev (b. 1986 Kyzyl, Russia; lives and works in Moscow, Russia)
  • Alex Ayed (b. 1989 Strasbourg, France; lives and works in Brussels, Belgium, and Tunis, Tunisia)
  • Nadia Belerique (b. 1982 Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; lives and works in Toronto, Canada)
  • Hera Büyüktaşcıyan (b. 1984 Istanbul, Turkey; lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey) 
  • Tomás Díaz Cedeño (b. 1983 Mexico City, Mexico; lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico) 
  • Gabriel Chaile (b. 1985 San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina; lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Gaëlle Choisne (b. 1985 Cherbourg, France; lives and works in Paris, France)
  • Krista Clark (b. 1975 Burlington, VT, United States; lives and works in Atlanta, GA, United States) 
  • Kate Cooper (b. 1984, Liverpool, United Kingdom; lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) 
  • Cynthia Daignault (b. 1978 Baltimore, MD, United States; lives and works in Baltimore, MD, United States) 
  • Jes Fan (b. 1990 Toronto, Canada; lives and works in New York, NY, United States and Hong Kong)
  • Goutam Ghosh (b. 1979 Nabadwip, India; lives and works in Kolkata, India) 
  • Harry Gould Harvey IV (b. 1991 Fall River, MA, United States; lives and works in Fall River, MA, United States) 
  • Clara Ianni (b. 1987 São Paolo, Brazil; lives and works in São Paolo, Brazil)
  • Kahlil Robert Irving (b. 1992 San Diego, CA, United States; lives and works in St. Louis, MO, United States) 
  • Arturo Kameya (b. 1984 Lima, Peru; lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) 
  • Laurie Kang (b. 1985 Toronto, Canada; lives and works in Toronto, Canada)  
  • Bronwyn Katz (b. 1993 Kimberly, South Africa; lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa) 
  • Ann Greene Kelly (b. 1988 New York, NY, United States; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, United States)
  • Kang Seung Lee (b. 1978 Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, United States) 
  • Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho (b. 1987 Dallas, TX, United States; lives and works in New York, NY, United States) and (b. 1985 Manila, Philippines; lives and works in Berlin, Germany) 
  • Tanya Lukin Linklater (Alutiiq) (b. 1976 Kodiak, AK, United States; lives and works in North Bay, Ontario, Canada)
  • Angelika Loderer (b. 1984 Feldbach, Austria; lives and works in Vienna, Austria)
  • Sandra Mujinga (b. 1989 Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo; lives and works in Oslo, Norway and Berlin, Germany)
  • Gabriela Mureb (b. 1985 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Brandon Ndife (b. 1991 Hammond, IN, United States; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, United States)
  • Erin Jane Nelson (b. 1989 Neenah, WI, United States; lives and works in Atlanta, GA, United States) 
  • Jeneen Frei Njootli (Vuntut Gwitchin) (b. 1988 Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada; lives and works in Vancouver, Canada)
  • Ima-Abasi Okon (b. 1981 London, United Kingdom; lives and works in London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
  • Christina Pataialii (b. 1988 Auckland, New Zealand; lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand)
  • Thao Nguyen Phan (b. 1987 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
  • Nickola Pottinger (b. 1986 Kingston, Jamaica; lives and works in New York, NY, United States)
  • Rose Salane (b. 1992 New York, NY, United States; lives and works in New York, NY, United States)
  • Blair Saxon-Hill (b. 1979 Eugene, OR, United States; lives and works in Portland, OR, United States)
  • Samara Scott (b. 1984 London, United Kingdom; lives and works in London, United Kingdom)
  • Amalie Smith (b. 1985 Copenhagen, Denmark; lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Iris Touliatou (b. 1981 Athens, Greece; lives and works in Athens, Greece) 
  • Ambera Wellmann (b. 1982 Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada; lives and works in New York, NY, United States)
  • Yu Ji (b. 1985 Shanghai, China; lives and works in Shanghai, China)

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Veering From the Didactic to the Lyrical, El Museo del Barrio’s Worthy New Triennial Defines Latinx Art Through a Common Struggle


In a new format called La Trienal, El Museo del Barrio’s survey of contemporary Latinx art “Estamos Bien” asserts that Latinx art is defined by a confrontation to systems of power. Bringing together a collection of works from intergenerational artists without a history of exhibiting at the museum (save for Candida Alvarez), curators Susanna V. Temkin, Rodrigo Moura, and guest curator Elia Alba argue that while there is no singular form or aesthetic to Latinx art, it is intrinsically tied to social critique.

The show gathers works by 42 living artists and collectives spread over eight gallery spaces including the entry and a brand new gallery. These artists outline the resilience in Latinx culture, reclaim lost histories, elevate the quotidian, and some even laugh at the absurdity of it all.

With a diverse crop of diasporic artists with backgrounds from all over Latin America, Guyana, and some that identify as Indigenous, La Trienal shatters a rigidity within the ‘Latino’ label exemplified in previous gatherings. However, the political framing here that ties the artists to traumatic social issues isn’t necessarily novel. “Estamos Bien,” the museum’s first national survey, emphasizes strong convictions about the detrimental state of our environment, class and racial dynamics, and the forces powering displacement, but at times these convictions shine brighter than the works. Though the show spotlights artists who have been deserving of recognition for decades as well as many young artists demonstrating excellence early in their careers, the need to display the concerns of Latinx communities does take the front seat.

Upon entering, Peaceful Protest (2020), a photograph of Black Lives Matter protesters at a die-in by Philadelphia-based photographer Ada Trillo, sets the curatorial tone, which wavers between the serious, the sarcastic, and, at times, the poetic.

Ada Trillo, Peaceful Protest from the "Black Lives Matter" series (2020). Courtesy the artist.

Ada Trillo, Peaceful Protest from the “Black Lives Matter” series (2020). Courtesy the artist.

Nearby, a wall painted black is dedicated to Dominican-American artist Lizania Cruz’s work Obituaries of the American Dream (2020-21). Taking a nod from the New York Times’s revisionist obituary project, Cruz’s participatory project inserts excluded narratives taking the form of a stack of newspapers one can take from the gallery. Each newspaper contains testimonies highlighting sad truths about the country’s failure to live up to its commitment to immigrants.

Lizania Cruz, Obituaries of the American Dream (2020- 21). Courtesy the artist

Lizania Cruz,
Obituaries of the American Dream
(2020- 21). Courtesy the artist

One gallery over, the same critique takes the form of pink cake frosting with Chicago-based artist Yvette Mayorga’s paintings that also embody the idea of phony American idealism. (I reviewed Mayorga’s work in 2019.)

Yvette Mayorga, The Procession (After 17th Century Vanitas) In loving memory of MM (2020). Courtesy the artist.

Yvette Mayorga, The Procession (After 17th Century Vanitas) In loving memory of MM (2020). Courtesy the artist.

The floor-to-ceiling vinyl chart Who Defines your Race? from San Diego-based Collective Magpies, also setting the tone right at the entrance, gets straight to the point of proving Latinx people exist as multitudes. The massive infographic shows survey responses about the complexity of personal and collective racial and ethnic perceptions, which quickly nods to a self-awareness in La Trienal that identity labels such as “Latinx” are imperfect. (The show is organized using the term ‘Latinx’ as a “placeholder” from which to unite and organize, curator Elia Alba said in a curatorial talk posted online.)

Collective Magpie, Who Designs Your Race? (2020-21). Courtesy the artist.

Collective Magpie, Who Designs Your Race? (2020-21). Courtesy the artist.

Like this infographic, there are several pieces in the show that favor straight-up facts in lieu of more poetic form. A 2018 video from the collective Torn Apart/Separados shows data visualizations taken from its interactive website using mapping technologies to draw conclusions or explore culpability for the humanitarian crisis of family separations in the U.S. The website is a response to an urgent need for justice that persists even with the country’s new administration under Joe Biden where minor detention centers continue to be built in Texas. Though the work is a clever use of technology, is it art and does it belong in a survey with the most reputable Latinx artists of our moment?

Torn Apart/Separados, video demo from website. Courtesy TA/S team.

Torn Apart/Separados, video demo from website. Courtesy TA/S team.

Los Angeles-based artist Carolina Caycedo, known for her poignant works about environmental justice, uses the recognizable format of a memorial: a drawing of a tree with the names of environmentalists murdered outside of the U.S. The piece, Genealogy of Struggling (2021), has a small altar with candles and herbs placed before it. Unlike the artist’s “Cosmotarrayas” or abstract water portraits, the piece is unequivocal rather than engaging. Like the Torn Apart/Separados website and Collective Magpie’s infographic, the altar foregrounds the global issue rather than using artistic nuance. These works function more as tools in service of content rather than forms that challenge the viewer.

Other works are more allusive in intention such as the unassuming sculptures of ektor garcia. The self-described nomadic artist uses craft techniques like ceramics, fiber, and metalwork in works that accentuate the hand. His elongated form of cascading butterflies is crocheted in copper wire and tenderly constructed with detailed craftsmanship. Ideas about the essence of the butterfly’s migratory patterns, the fluidity of gender, and the perpetual movement in garcia’s practice and existence could all be considered in interpretations of the work.

Eddie Aparicio, City Bus Memorial (Fig. and Ave. 60, Los Angeles, California) (2016). Courtesy the artist.

Eddie Aparicio, City Bus Memorial (Fig. and Ave. 60, Los Angeles, California) (2016). Courtesy the artist.

The rubber casts of Los Angeles trees by the artist Eddie R. Aparicio also challenge traditional forms and use novel techniques to create meaning. Aparicio visits ficus trees around parks on the outskirts of L.A. in danger of being cut down. Each time he visits the tree, he applies layers of rubber until he can capture the exterior essence of the tree, human markings and all. The works hold fleeting cultural imprints of communities also on the verge of displacement and are visualizations of the human effects on the environment.

There’s a prevailing theme of resilience that runs throughout the galleries. La Trienal’s title “Estamos Bien” is also the name of Puerto Rican pop star Bad Bunny’s post-Hurricane Maria anthem, a tongue-in-cheek declaration that “we good” despite experiencing an extraordinary natural disaster and delayed aid from the U.S. That adaptive sentiment is explored in pieces like New York- and Peru-based artist xime izquierdo ugaz’s photo archive documenting a chosen queer family. Spilling from a gallery corner, the intimate portraits are reminiscent of a proud parent’s living room wall where the star qualities of loved ones are on display. The pictures document the radical act of recreating the supportive bonds of family that queer folks may be denied.

From Michael Menchaca, A Cage Without Borders (2020-21). Courtesy the artist.

From Michael Menchaca,
A Cage Without Borders
(2020-21). Courtesy the artist.

Moving in the opposite direction of resilience toward compounding anxiety is Mexican-American artist Michael Menchaca’s critique of the surveillance state as related to Black and brown people. The chaotic 3-channel digital animation A Cage without Borders asks us: What if you could step inside the Latinx algorithm? Would it contain images of Selena, AOC in her ‘tax the rich’ sweatshirt, and ICE agents opening fire? The work subjects the viewer to these and a cacophonous overload of flashing graphics while a computerized narration drawls on about the state of technological surveillance over a techno beat.

Menchaca’s collaged scenes of viral Latino imagery pop up phrases like “Carceral Technology Up to 100% Off!” and “Behavioral Gentrification,” presenting a constant state of pandemonium. The crowded screens are lined with emojis, corporate emblems from Google, Amazon, and Homeland Security, and Menchaca’s remixed Pre-Columbian cat glyphs. Not only is this an apt critique of how Latinos are mined as consumers, it physically reproduces the psychological anxiety of experiencing the landscape of online activism.

Another stunner in the show are from art darling Patrick Martinez whose impressive painting literally brings the outdoor aesthetics of Los Angeles—neon signs, stucco walls, and his signature clay rose adornments—into the gallery, playing on the appearance of quickly gentrifying neighborhoods. The artist told me this is the first public showing from this series, which is two years in the making, as his works are snatched up by institutions and collectors before being exhibited—a rare kind of market success for other artists in this survey.

Raelis Vasquez, The Other Side of Tourism. Courtesy the artist.

Raelis Vasquez, The Other Side of Tourism.
Courtesy the artist.

Representational painting also makes a few cameos here, notably with both the youngest and most senior artists in La Trienal. Born in 1995, New York-based painter Raelis Vasquez, renders exquisite domestic table scenes of his family in the Dominican Republic, while Chicano artist Joey Terrill from L.A., born in 1955, paints vivid vanitas with fruit-filled tables featuring oversized pills, alluding to his 40 year experience living with HIV.

Joey Terrill, <em> Black Jack 8</em> (2008). Courtesy the artist.

Joey Terrill, Black Jack 8 (2008). Courtesy the artist.

The variance in mediums and subject continues throughout the show as performance, minimalist architectural interventions, and sculptural works substantiate the claim that Latinx art cannot be defined through format but maybe through a sense of urgency. Although fulfilling a curatorial aim was favored over a balance of formal experimentation, aesthetics, and content in a few works, La Trienal shows how much latent and under-recognized talent there is in the field.

Installation view of "Estamos Bien" at El Museo del Barrio. Photo by Martin Seck.

Installation view of “Estamos Bien” at El Museo del Barrio. Photo by Martin Seck.

Though one could say the categorization of art through ethnic identifiers like “Latinx” becomes broad and obscures meaning, the exclusion of Latinx art from relevant art conversations—even in El Museo’s own recent history of prioritizing Latin-American art over Latinx artists—is a reality. That persistent exclusion in museum collections, gallery shows, etc., and a lack of contextualization that feeds misunderstandings about the work, is a running testament to the need for these surveys. Though the collected works are but a glimpse into the range of Latinx art, the curators have outlined a communal need for doing justice to its breadth. It’s up to the rest of the art world to respond—but if not, no worries. Estamos bien.

“Estamos Bien—La Trienal, 20/21” is on view at El Museo del Barrio, New York, through September 26, 2021.

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