Juan Pablo Echeverri
June 7—July 28, 2023
James Fuentes is pleased to announce Juan Pablo Echeverri: Identidad Perdida, a solo exhibition in two parts presented in collaboration with Between Bridges, Berlin accompanied by a monographic publication on the artist by James Fuentes Press.
Juan Pablo Echeverri (1978-2022) is a renowned contemporary artist from Bogota, Colombia whose prolific body of work can be read as a continual self-portrait in many parts. Translating to Lost Identity, the exhibition’s title is lifted from a handwritten note taped to the wall in Echeverri’s studio. The phrase resonates on a number of levels. Before his passing, much of Echeverri’s thinking was around challenging the flattened, essentialist reading of identity at play in today’s art world. In his characteristically playful, hyper-contemporary manner, Echeverri resisted the generalized insistence upon the performance of a “real” Latin American identity.
During his teens, Echeverri began experimenting with his appearance and, in turn, its documentation. The impulse would later crystallize in his seminal miss fotojapón series (1998-2022), a daily project of recording his likeness in a photo booth, resulting in a collection of over 8000 self-portraits. This ritual exercise ran parallel to more than 30 series of photographic series and video works that disclose Echeverri’s infatuation with the performativity of identity and fantasies of the self made possible in our photographic world. Echeverri describes these projects as “a series of beings that have been brought to life as a consequence of an exposure to icons, music, fashion, advertising, TV, films, and all the things we encounter on a daily basis.” The exhibition includes two panels of over 400 images each from miss fotojapón, each uniquely combined from the larger series, presented for the first time in New York.
A selection from the artist's Identidad Payasa (2017) double-portrait series expands upon Echeverri's photographic languages through one of his most ambitious projects. This series of diptychs shows, on the left-hand side, a portrait of a street clown characteristic of Mexico City's urban subcultures, who Echeverri in turn invited to transform him into a copy of themselves; paired on the right-hand side with the resulting self-portrait of himself as payaso. Through this double-vision, using his own body Echeverri carries out a renewed multiplicity and refusal of rigid conformativity. In a dedicated downstairs gallery, a selection of Echeverri’s home-made (early 2000s) and self-made music videos created wherever he traveled to are presented as a reel, the latter all belonging to his video series Around the World in 80 Gays (2007-2015). They show him dancing and lip-syncing to top-40 songs of those regions he visited as well as his self-produced Spanish and Gay versions of pop songs, and, most staggeringly in its gestural preciseness, presenting his craftsmanship of impersonating and inventing personas that allowed him to inhabit an endless plurality of positions.
Echeverri’s enormous creative spirit and perceptive sense of humor also imbued his contributions as an integral member of his artistic community in the Americas and Europe. Identidad Perdida is organized by some of the people who miss him: Marcela Echeverri, Federico Martelli, Santiago Monge, Viktor Neumann, Sofía Reyes, and Wolfgang Tillmans. In Berlin, the project is embedded in Between Bridges’ current program series THESES ON HOPE, echoing Cuban-American scholar José Esteban Muñoz’s (1967-2013) thoughts on minority and disidentificatory performance in their world-making capacity. The second part of the exhibition takes place at James Fuentes, New York. A new publication from James Fuentes Press, designed by Other Means, details the wide-ranging works in both exhibitions and features a foreword by Wolfgang Tillmans, an essay by Inti Guerrero, and an interview (2012) with the artist, edited by Laura Brown and Marcela Echeverri.
A concurrent exhibition is on view at Between Bridges, Berlin, through July 29, 2023. Between Bridges is a non-profit exhibition space initiated in 2006 by Wolfgang Tillmans. After its first chapter at 223 Cambridge Heath Road, London (2006-2011) and second chapter at Keithstraße 15, Berlin (2014-2019), its third chapter at Adalbertstraße 43, Berlin was launched in July of 2022. Between Bridges was also established as a foundation in 2017, committed to humanism, solidarity, and the advancement of democracy. It supports the arts, LGBT+ rights, and anti-racism work through a biannual residency for visual artists, cultural campaigns, international project support.