Grammar of Gates / Gramática de las puertas
by Miguel Fernández de Castro
Organized in conjunction with Whitechapel Gallery in London, Artists’ Film International (AFI) is a program that showcases international artists working in film, video and animation. Every year all participating institutions nominate a moving-image work from an artist living and working in their country.
For AFI 2020, Ballroom Marfa selects Miguel Fernández de Castro’s film Grammar of Gates/Gramática de las puertas. This dynamic visual and aural collage traces the overlapping territories, languages, and conflicts that mark the U.S.-Mexico border within the sovereign Tohono O’odham Nation. The artist weaves together excerpts from the 1970 movie Geronimo Jones, drone and surveillance-like imagery of the landscape, and an affectless recitation of phrases drawn from A Practical Spanish Grammar for Border Patrol Officers.
The rote repetition from the textbook sets a backdrop for the banal and brutal architectures of power situated at the border. Via this military mantra the video registers who navigates the territory, legally and illegally, and the various physical and invisible barriers they might face. The artist uses an observatory set on a sacred mountain and a blocked gate, meant to connect ancestral O’odham lands, as indices of the degradation of stewardship and access. Carefully grafting disparate source material, de Castro illustrates the language of power that defines the edges of a violent dynamic that in turn defines the border.
Watch Grammar of Gates
If you missed our screening events, you can still watch Miguel Fernández de Castro’s film below and all AFI 2020 films on Ballroom’s Vimeo.
On August 22 & 29 a selection of AFI films will screen on Ballroom’s Vimeo film channel. Grammar of Gates launches AFI 2020 with a special introduction from the artist. Additionally, an online interview will be published, providing further context to de Castro’s work. AFI 2020 continues on August 29 with two additional selections, followed by a Q+A with artist Lisa Tan and Ballroom curator Daisy Nam.
August 22, 1 pm CST
Miguel Fernández de Castro, special introduction, Grammar of Gates/ Gramática de las puertas (21 mins.)
Selected by Ballroom Marfa
Raqs Media Collective, Passwords for Time Travel (10 mins.)
Selected by Project 88, Mumbai
August 29, 1 pm CST
Rhea Storr, Junkanoo Talk (12 mins.)
Selected by Whitechapel Gallery, London
Lisa Tan, My Pictures of You (23 mins.)
Selected by Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm
Followed by a Q + A with the artist via Zoom
All AFI 2020 films are available to watch online on Ballroom’s Vimeo.
AFI 2020 NOMINATIONS
Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas – Miguel Fernández de Castro, Grammar of Gates
Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden – Lisa Tan, My Pictures of You
The Cultural Centre of Belgrade, Belgrade – Bojan Fajrić, The Cause of Death
Crawford Art Gallery, Cork Ireland – Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Inscriptions (One Here Now)
Fundación PRÓA, Buenos Aires, Argentina – Leticia Obeid, Jano
Friends of Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa – Lerato Shadi, Mabogo Dinku
GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy – Francesco Pedragli, Racconto antiorario (6 costellazioni) / Scripting anticlockwise (6constellations)
İstanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey – Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Desire Lines/ Tarot & Chess
KMW Art Centre, Beijing – Yu Guo, Jiéjiè (Enchantment)
Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation, Amman, Jordan – Mohamed A. Gawad, Betalpha (Balbalah)
Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia – Evgeny Granilshchikov Courbet’s Funeral
Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland – Dominika Olszowy, Wanda Wanton
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k), Berlin, Germany – Vika Kirchenbauer, YOU ARE BORING!
Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong – Yao Qingmei, Sanzu Ding and It’s Patterns: 1. A major archeological discovery
Project 88, Mumbai, India – Raqs Media Collective, Passwords for Time Travel
Tromsø Kunstforenig, Tromsø, Norway – Daisuke Kosugi, A False Weight
Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK – Rhea Storr, Junkanoo Talk
Miguel Fernández de Castro
Miguel Fernández de Castro (Sonora, 1986) is a visual artist whose work examines how extractive and criminal economies materially transform a territory. Through long-term projects, he has developed a body of work through photography, video, sculpture, archives and writing. His work has been shown at Frac Centre-Val de Loire, Orleans; e-flux, New York; Museo de Geología, UNAM, Mexico City; Spazio Veda, Florence; The Wren Library, Cambridge; Museo Artium, Vitoria; Proyecto Paralelo, Mexico City; Casa del Lago, Mexico City; Ashkal Alwan, Beirut; Museo de Arte Moderno de México, Mexico City; Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver; Bikini Wax, Mexico City; Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles; among others. Recently, he has been resident at PAOS, Guadalajara and at Casa Gallina-InSite, Mexico City.
Raqs Media Collective
Raqs Media Collective, founded 1992, based in New Delhi, India. Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Jeebesh Bagchi formed after they attended out of the AJK Mass Communication and Research Center, Jamia Milia University in Delhi while working together on their first, now lost, 16mm film, Half the Night Left, and the Universe to Comprehend.
Raqs has exhibited widely, including at Documenta, the Venice, Istanbul, Taipei, Liverpool, Shanghai, Sydney and Sao Paulo Biennales. Recent solo exhibitions (and projects) include – Pamphilos at Fast Forward Festival 6, Athens (2019); Still More World at Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2019); Twilight Language at Manchester Art Gallery (2017-2018); Everything Else is Ordinary at K21 Museum for 21st Century Art, Dusseldorf (2018); If It’s Possible, It’s Possible, MUAC, Mexico City (2015) and Untimely Calendar at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi (2014-2015). Exhibitions curated by Raqs include In The Open or in Stealth (MACBA, Barcelona 2018 – 2019); Why Not Ask Again (Shanghai Biennale 2016-2017); INSERT2014 (New Delhi, 2014) and The Rest of Now & Scenarios (Manifesta 7, Bolzano, 2008). They are the artistic directors of the forthcoming Yokohama Triennale (2020).
Rhea Storr (Leeds, UK, 1991) is an artist based in London. Her practice spans moving image, drawing and writing. She received an MA in Contemporary Art Practice from the Royal College of Art (2017) and a BFA from The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford (2013). She makes work about black and mixed-race identities, asking where images fail or resist us. She often works on 16mm film. Recent screenings include National Museum of African American History and Culture, US, European Media Art Festival, Hamburg International Short Film Festival, Kassel Doc Fest, Berwick Film and Media Art Festival and Aesthetica Short Film Festival. She is the winner of the inaugural Louis Le Prince Experimental Film Prize and teaches workshops at the film co-operative Not Nowhere.
Lisa Tan (Syracuse, NY, 1973) lives in Stockholm where she is Professor of Fine Art at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. She works with video, photography, text, and installation. Tan is concerned with the ways in which images and language shape political consciousness, the formation of individual subjectivity, and desire. Aspects of her everyday life—such as love, experiences of otherness, loss—have all served as inspiration alongside her research into different fields of study such as theory of photography, literature, and affect.
Lisa Tan is currently included in osloBIENNALEN First Edition 2019-2024 with a work titled, Other Artists (2019). Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Kunsthall Trondheim (2017), and the group exhibitions, An Inventory of Shimmers, MIT List Center (2017), Show and Tell, Malmö Konstmuseum (2017), Why Not Ask Again?, 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016), Decent, ICA Philadelphia (2016), Surround Audience, Triennial exhibition at the New Museum (2015). Her work is included in the public collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Malmö Konstmuseum, the City of Oslo’s public art collection, and Coleção Moraes-Barbosa, São Paulo.