WE ARE HERE TO SERVE YOU

02/20 - 03/20
Arnold & Sheila Aronson Galleries
curated by: Paradoxluxe

We are here to serve,
to be observed, to listen,
and to entertain.

We are here to be of use,
to be grateful, to bow down
and follow rules.

See the circus? It’s a failed experiment.

Let’s end the circus.

Here, drink.

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WE ARE HERE TO SERVE YOU, a traveling exhibition which began as a collaboration between Puerto Rican artist Natalia Almonte and Greek artist Nicole Economides, focuses on connecting artistic practices from both places that are confronting similar intangible realities. The artworks on view — ranging from multimedia video installations and photography, to performance and painting — critically engage with reductive perceptions of Greece and Puerto Rico and infuse ideas of cyclical futility and ephemerality with humor and double meaning, bringing cultural symbols and specificity to activism. They explore the repercussions of being in financial debt to political entities that already control their economies through colonial puppeteering. In debt, but not indebted to, conceptually permeates WE ARE HERE TO SERVE YOU, an intentionally sarcastic title suggesting an assumed foolishness that in actuality reveals our hyperconsciousness.
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Like overseas siblings, Greece and Puerto Rico are often compared quantitatively, reduced to statistics that include: pensions, GDP, wages, poverty line, and debt. Of course, the main difference between these two countries is that Greece has sovereignty and Puerto Rico has not. Yet the exotic beaches and strategic geography of both create utopias for the “work hard / play hard” war cry of the 1% whose political savior
complex lies comfortably under blankets of false advertisement. The truth is that — in the globalized eyes of the EU and the US — Greece and Puerto Rico, respectively, are loophole wonderlands. What is seductive about both locations is common knowledge, but what is not prioritized is how to manage that seduction so that locals are not left licking meatless bones. Today there is a yearning for a perspectival shift that could liberate gaslit co-dependency and envision an infrastructure for self-sustaining economies. That ideal becomes more and
more impossible to realize as a steady “brain drain” through migration has turned into a crisis, proving that what investors want is the land void of its people.
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Although the economy is the root of the problem in both cases, the sociopolitical repercussions are often less analyzed. However, tension between feelings of anger, anxiety, freedom, and abandonment can create conditions for aesthetic innovation and hybridity, with artists playing a unique role in revealing invisible psychic conditions that are often ignored. Artists in both regions, and as part of the diaspora, reflect on the times while referencing history and find language for the lived experience. This exhibition is motivated by the humanizatio of solutions. It is focused on unraveling the colonial knots through corporeal responses and respecting the power of the physical land itself. 
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