By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Likewise, White Noise, a video by Torolab's Raul Cardenas, depicts a human hive of two million people in Tijuana, many of whom eke out shelters from the discarded scraps of the frontier town's industries, constructing tumbledown homes out of truck tires, wooden pallets, and garage doors, while dreaming of a better way of life across the border.
La Cañada Real Galiana is a squatters' settlement outside Madrid formed in the '60s when people began planting vegetable gardens in the area. Soon it became an illegal urban village with makeshift homes built by its now 40,000 inhabitants, many of whom have lived there for several decades.
Stateless, La Cañada is Real is a project created by Santiago Cirugeda/Recetas Urbanas, Democracia, and Todo por la Praxis, who collaborated on a multi-pronged intervention into the shabby habitat to focus public awareness on homelessness, a population infested by drug problems and government evictions.
The artists carved out huge letters stating that the neighborhood was legitimate and placed it on a hillside like the iconic Hollywood sign.
They have come up with a logo design for the settlement and emblazoned it on patches, T-shirts, and baseball caps as a merchandising effort to give the settlement its own distinct identity and unite the population. Some of the tees boast phrases such as "Mi Barrio Or Die" or "Asistencia Antisocial." They have also come up with cocaine-snorting kits replete with the communal logo, a mirror, a straw and scoop, and a razor blade.
In addition, the group created posters of La Cañada inhabitants, a series of postcards of the area's housing and communal gardens and constructed a public center for inhabitants to file petitions and protect their rights against eviction.
A video depicts police in riot gear chasing residents out of their homes in the desolate landscape, while children play along dirt roads.
Miami's Gean Moreno and Ernesto Orozco focus their attention on Little Haiti and a population that has come up with its own unique architectural model for commerce. Jenny is an ersatz seating module crafted from painted wood planks and milk crates typically used as impromptu resting places outside area stores.
The piece contains a wooden cubbyhole where the artists have placed bundles of the tabloid-like publication that serves as a catalogue for the show. In its pages appear likenesses of the milk crate grids that the artists have used to paper several walls creating a tiled effect.
The images and lives on display at the Spanish Cultural Center are a far cry from the glittering high rises just east of the gallery. But like the neighborhoods surrounding them through which many of us often zip with raised car windows and bolted doors offering nary a glance at the downtrodden and marginalized, this work raises questions about how some choose to live with their eyes closed, while stimulating reflection on our notions of habitability.