Art incognito: CAC’s new exhibit is hidden in plain view

Breaking ground: CAC board members dig Let’s Build a Nation.
Photo: Maria Alvino

The current show at Contemporary Arts Center might have visitors asking, "Where's the exhibit?"


Let's Build a Nation
Through October 28; Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m.; free.
Live presentation October 16, noon.
Contemporary Arts Center, 382-3886,

For Let's Build a Nation, the gallery is set up like a corporate conference room and business hotel. Only small paintings of former CAC board members and a display of artifacts — T-shirt, broken coffee mug and old board meeting minutes — hint that this is some type of display. But that's all window dressing. The show is more concept and process: Artists Sara Eliassen, Carlos Castro and Jevijoe Vitug act as a fictional consulting firm hired to create CAC's national identity and design a themed hotel-casino based on that identity. Vitug, who lives in Las Vegas, was the only artist on site for a performance last week in which the artists presented to CAC board members. The other artists chime in on Skype from New York and Bogota.

Vitug pitches to the board, and, in a nod to the United Nations, the artists (hailing from Norway, the Philippines and Colombia) read aloud a statement of independence in their native tongues, eventually declaring the CAC a sovereign nation from September 30 to October 23.

Board members and gallery visitors fill out a survey on a possible national identity based on type of government, religion, culture, history, etc. The exhibit is designed to explore the idea of nations and of "building a nation" as a constructed idea.

Thoughts? Stop in to take the survey and look around. On October 16, as part of the CAC's Off the Strip performance art and video showcase, the group will tally and announce its survey results.

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