Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
As some lament 2020 as a terrible year, others point out that systemic inequities have been woven into much of American history long before. Social media and uprisings have put police brutality, climate change, and political corruption into high relief.
Artist William Camargo has also been pointing out that systemic racism and gentrification disproportionately affect communities of color — and often start at the local level. In realizing that these histories aren’t taught at schools, Camargo created a photo series centering the Brown community in Anaheim and Orange County, California.
William Camargo: Origins & Displacements is a two-part storefront window exhibition at the Grand Central Art Center that continues the artist’s photojournalistic work in its focus on communities of color. These photos, however, are the artist’s move to insert himself into the canon of California photography, inspired by an aesthetic similar to artists like Laura Aguilar. These photos are purposefully staged, each one in rhythm with the other, prominently featuring Camargo in each frame.
Camargo tells Hyperallergic that he uses himself as “a marker or a kind of substitute for the past” and the people whose stories often go untold — “the people that live here and who also worked in the field and who worked making the city what it is today.”
Orange County has a deeply racist and troubling past: in the 1920s, the KKK had an enormous presence, hosting meetings of thousands of people in Anaheim. In “Damn I Can’t Go On This Side of the Park?” Camargo alludes to this history, standing with a sign obscuring his face and torso that reads “This Park Used to Be Segregated.” The OC Weekly, which Camargo referenced for these pieces, reports that Pearson Park “once kept Mexicans penned up in a segregated section of the park.” Bodies like his would not have been welcome in the park in relatively recent times.
“Damn, Four of Them Got Elected?!” shows Camargo in front of City Hall holding a sign that reads “In 1924 Four Klan Members Were Elected To The Anaheim City Council.” Although these images draw from historical moments, they collapse the past and present through the artist’s interventions. During a time when the racism and political connections of board members, candidates, and other authorities are being called out, the photograph feels chillingly relevant.
Essential workers are highlighted as well, with pieces like “Did ya’ll forget we worked here?” — a photo that features a woman in front of the Sunkist Anaheim Packing House. While Camargo expects some pushback from officials and people in the area as he brings up these histories, he’s also been carrying this knowledge to schools in the hopes of creating a ripple effect.
Camargo asks: “What could be done when we do know the history — and how does that help improve situations to communities of color?”
William Camargo: Origins & Displacements continues at the storefront windows of CSUF Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) (125 N Broadway, Santa Ana, California) and Muzeo Museum & Cultural Center (241 S Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, California) through December 31.
Camargo will be doing a performance at GCAC on Saturday, November 7 at 4pm (PST). It will be available for live, virtual viewing; check @begovichgallery for updates. Camargo will also be in conversation with Paul Mpagi Sepuya on December 5 at 11am (PST). You can access the virtual webinar here.
New works by one of Bangladesh’s most prominent photojournalists, writers, and activists are on view at the Chicago art space through November 27.
Council often uses humor as a political tool to expose systems of power and inequality in a society in which even death carries a high price tag.
An exhibition at the San Francisco Opera House pairs the work of incarcerated artists with Beethoven’s story of unjust imprisonment.
Many works take disruption and repetition as their themes, and many artists resurface in different sections, creating multiple affinities.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
In Cooking with Paris, Hilton capitalizes on her portrayal of being a competent woman, while highlighting its anachronism through her absurd performance. Rosler manipulates the camera in the same way.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
A man says Blue Bayou took details of his life without his permission. Several women who appear in the documentary Sabaya say they did not consent to be filmed. How can filmmakers avoid these ethical pitfalls?
Ursula Biemann, Nicolas Bourriaud, and others said they will no longer participate in the event.
There is an official ban against the public mourning of Tiananmen Square victims in Hong Kong and mainland China.