Vegas’ 2014 London Biennale wraps with a taco takeback and more

Yasmina Chavez in the throes of Butoh during an interactive performance with Javier Sanchez at the 2014 London Biennale.
Photo: Brent Holmes

Artist Justin Favela is in Virginia City, Nevada, eating Mexican food and video-chatting with guests in David Ryan’s Las Vegas studio, where Ryan is mapping Favela’s taco-eating locations. The collaboration is part of Favela’s project, Taco Takeover, and loosely based on a Paul Mooney joke about white culture taking certain black celebrities—Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Tiger Woods, for example—while throwing others, such as O.J. Simpson, back.

In Taco Takeover, Favela explores cultural reappropriation and his Hispanic heritage through Mexican food, a project he documents with mapping and video. “This is me taking the taco back,” he says through the computer monitor while taking a bite of a steak taco and talking about the transformation of Mexican food in America.

His project was a shoe-in for this year’s 2014 London Biennale: Las Vegas Pollination, themed Maps Mazes and Mysteries and taking place in artist homes and studios over two weekends. (Favela is in Virginia City on an artist’s residency.) Outside Ryan’s Downtown studio, Yasmina Chavez and Javier Sanchez perform Butoh in and above a maze of sorts made of yarn, pulled taut above the ground—an interactive performance on navigating into the future.

At the home of artists Giorgio Guidi and Cara Seymour, the artists’ sound installation, “Nobody Has Ever Been Here”—spoken lyrics, guitar and percussive sounds—plays in a small dark room, while one of three performances by San Francisco’s Kady Monroe-Tracey includes another layering of words. Guests and the artist read song lyrics, yogic text, book passages and Monroe-Tracey’s own writing: one voice, two voices, multiple voices, cacophony, a song, lyrical readings and different rhythms, in no particular order and often at once.

Following the previous weekend’s performances—the religious nature of pharmaceutical indulgence and the female body in the room—as well as interactive art, a labyrinth and a documentary short of art sent into the world on balloons, Pollination in Las Vegas culminates as it began, as an all inclusive but intimate exchanging of ideas, reality, fantasy, wit and community.

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Kristen Peterson

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