Home Historical art Chon Noriega will discuss the connection between the destruction of a piano and the unreliable telling of history

Chon Noriega will discuss the connection between the destruction of a piano and the unreliable telling of history


Forget the narrative trinity of beginning, middle, and end. At least that’s how Professor Chon Noriega approaches his upcoming lecture on artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz, one of the founders of the destructivist art movement of the 1960s. To capture Ortiz’s life and work, Noriega plans to adopting a true destructivist form when speaking about Ortiz for the 131st UCLA Faculty Research Conference. That is to say, he leaves the structure behind him.

“I take more of a vignette approach. It’s not strictly linear,” said Noriega, who will present the virtual talk titled “Destruction in Art, Art in Destruction” on Thursday, April 28 at 4 p.m.

Much like Ortiz’s “piano smashing concerts,” Noriega said he approached the lecture, and the book he was writing about Ortiz, as if tackling the conventional form of biography of a artist.

“Destroying the piano with an ax – or the sofa with your bare hands – ultimately turns these objects into lots of shards, lots of pieces and pieces,” said Noriega, a distinguished professor of film, television and digital media at UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. “You can’t piece it together the way a piano or a chair was put together as a very functional object in the world.”

Noriega sees archeology and history following the same metaphorical process in that fields have often taken the fragments of the past and attempted to weave them into a singular, linear narrative, a trope that has often left many voices behind. , did he declare.

To demonstrate this process in the lecture, Noriega hopes to show audiences that history is often best told when it “hopscows” through time and space, revealing the intersections between art, politics, national archives and the changing notion of American citizenship. Noriega will look specifically at 19th century Puerto Rico and its politicians, who fought for autonomy, first from Spain and then from the United States.

“These politicians were scientists, doctors and biologists. And they were also artists or art collectors,” Noriega said, explaining that the development of science and art was paramount to the group’s political reform goals in establishing a place, d a culture and a national identity.

“The biggest question when the United States took control of Spain’s colonial possessions in 1898 was, ‘Are the people of these islands now American citizens or colonial subjects?’ Today, Puerto Ricans are US citizens but still cannot vote for president or elect representatives to Congress.

What’s the deal with Ortiz? You only have to attend the conference to find out, said Noriega, who points to Ortiz’s turn toward destruction as an artistic practice and commentary on inaccurate history still acceptable today.

Remi Villaggi

Raphael Montañez Ortiz was the founder of the first museum of Latino art in the United States and received the UCLA Medal in 2017.

Noriega has a distinctive advantage in choosing Ortiz as the focus of his lecture and as the research subject of his 2021-2022 Guggenheim Fellowship, which he received in 2021 as he completed his nearly two-decade tenure as director of UCLA Chicano. Studies Research Center.

“I’ve been interviewing him for 30 years,” said Noriega, who met Ortiz in 1993 at Cornell University where Noriega was organizing an exhibition that brought together Latino installation artists to challenge the accepted history of the medium at that time. Noriega was drawn to the way Ortiz used destruction as an art form grounded in ritual, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience, and founded the first museum of Latin art in the United States.

In 2015, Ortiz donated his many papers, audiovisual records, and ephemera to the Chicano Studies Research Center. Noriega said Ortiz, who is Puerto Rican with Mexican and Indigenous heritage, liked the holistic approach the center takes to the arts, and he wanted to support its ongoing work to preserve and understand the long-term contributions of Latinos to art in the United States and around the world.

Noriega is currently a principal investigator on two grants that support the preservation of Ortiz’s films and videos from the 1950s, and he is also the editor of the CSRC’s “A Ver: Revisioning Art History” book series, which includes 12 books on Latinos and Latin Artists. He is currently planning to publish five more titles by 2024, including one on Ortiz, which he writes.

Noriega will be joined after the conference for a live Q&A session with Jennifer González, professor of art history and visual culture at UC Santa Cruz, and poet and art historian Roberto Tejada. , Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor at the University of Houston.