Artist Lab Residency & Exhibition:
January 22 – March 29, 2019
Clarissa Tossin is a visual artist who uses installation, video, performance, sculpture, and photography to negotiate hybridization of cultures and the persistence of difference. By embracing semantic displacements in given material cultural ecosystems, Tossin’s work reflects on circulation from the level of the body to the global industry.
For 18th Street’s Artist Lab Residency, Tossin will present a new body of work centered on her ongoing research into US collections of pre-Columbian artifacts, and their relationship to appropriated pre-Columbian artifacts and motifs. Tossin is conducting research into the forms and sounds of pre-Columbian instruments that will inform a new film concept based on the textile block houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the LA metro area. Tossin will bring a selection of 3D-printed replica instruments from public collections into the gallery at 18th Street Arts Center with the intent to sonically animate the appropriated pre-Columbian stylistic and material influences that make Wright’s houses so distinctive. The resonances and dissonances between “authenticity” of material, of design, and of tone invested in these instruments, and the pastiche or appropriation methodology of the architecture, produce spectres of the imagination that bring established subject positions into question.
Tossin will invite amateur and professional musicians from Central America and Mexico to play these traditional Mayan musical instruments in the gallery, which will be ornamented with a pattern derived from the textile block patterns of the Ennis House. She intends to link the travel of an archaeological instrument with the travel of an architectural style, and ultimately, to complicate how cultures are displaced and appropriated.
Tossin’s work has been featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York; the 12th Gwangju Biennial, South Korea; 2014 Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; the Queens Museum, in New York; the Museum of Latin American Art, in Long Beach; SITE Santa Fe Biennial; the Wattis Institute, in San Francisco; Wesleyan University’s Zilkha Gallery, in Connecticut; Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France; Skulpturenmuseum, Glaskasten Marl, Germany; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; SESC Pompéia, São Paulo, Brazil; Fundação Iberê Camargo, Porto Alegre, Brazil; among others. Tossin is the recipient of a Fellows of Contemporary Art Awards (2019); Los Angeles Artadia Awards (2018); Fellowship for Visual Artists from the California Community Foundation (2014); and an Artistic Innovation Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation (2012). She received a M.F.A. from the California Institute of Arts.
Clarissa Tossin gratefully acknowledges anthropologist/archaeologist Jared Katz, the Mayer Post-doctoral Curatorial Fellow for Pre-columbian Art at the Denver Museum, without whom this project would not have been possible. For the past five years, he has documented ancient Maya musical instruments housed in the labs of archeological projects and museums around Mesoamerica and the U.S. Katz has developed a methodology to 3D scan and 3D print playable replicas of the instruments that sound nearly identical to the original objects.