“Casa Tomada” takes its title from Julio Cortázar’s 1946 short story of the same name, which translates as “House Taken Over.” The story follows two siblings and their desperate attempt to maintain their ancestral home until an unnamed presence forces them out. This narrative, as well as the exhibition, brings up questions of property, boundaries, and the maintenance and violation of physical and emotional space and memory. Over twenty artists, organized by three curators, incorporate a vast range of media, including photography, performance, sound and installation, to explore the concept of occupation.
“Casa Tomada” incorporates an impressively broad range of media from artists working internationally. While this risks producing a chaotic take on an already broad concept, the cultural diversity of the exhibit allows a rare and often personal glimpse at how different societies approach boarders. Whether cultural groups place more value on private property, the communities they create, the ecological impact of globalization, or simply freedom of ideas, “Casa Tomada” forces us to ask: do the physical and emotional boarders we create keep us safe, or do they lock us up?
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s “Revindication of Tangible Property” installation is one of the most imposing pieces in the exhibition. The large-scale mobiles incorporate wooden poles which resemble human arms. From them, smaller sculptures of household objects are suspended, spanning the height of the gallery. The piece was commissioned for the biennial and draws from the Mayan book of creation, where domestic objects rebel against human disregard for them. The piece has a magical quality that takes a lighthearted approach to exploring what might happen if the objects we take for granted take on a life of their own.