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by Alex Donis
June 1, 2018 – June 30, 2018
Every month Marginalia invites an artist, curator or project to provide a series of images that will serve as the background of Terremoto, in relation to their practice and current interests. At the end of each month, the identity of our guest is revealed and the whole series of images is unveiled.
Most of my work from the past two decades specializes in unexpected, even impossible, pairings—an American marine performing a ballet with an Iraqi soldier, a Los Angeles police officer disco dancing with a member of a South-Central street gang, two rival soccer players in a tongue-kissing embrace. I place each of the couples against an undifferentiated neutral background, as though to suspend them in a space outside of historical context and political conflict. My dancers (and kissers) appear before us like lucid, technicolor fragments from an otherwise indecipherable dream. In pictures such as Abdullah and Sergeant Adams (from the series Pas de Deux, 2006) and Officer Moreno and Joker (from the series WAR, 2001), I take adversarial relationships marked by hatred and violence and restage them as dances of joy and mutual pleasure. I force deep-seated animosities to give way, however temporarily or tongue-in-cheek, to affection. I approach the most volatile and divisive of social issues—war, religion, street gangs, the police—through the unexpected lens of same-sex pairing and sensory pleasure. The series of paintings titled ¡Gol! (2014–2017) unite international futbol/soccer players from rival teams and countries whose geopolitical relationship has long been fraught with colonialist and de-colonialist legacies. The players are caught in mid-flight embracing and erotically kissing each other, giving new meaning to the jogo bonito (beautiful game).
— Alex Donis
Alex Donis is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work examines and redefines the boundaries set within religion, politics, race, and sexuality. Interested in toppling societies’ conventional attitudes, his work is often influenced by a tri-cultural (Pop, Latino, and Queer) experience. He has worked extensively in a variety of media including painting, installation, photography, video, and works on paper.
He was born in 1964 in Chicago, IL and was educated at a Catholic school in East Los Angeles, an East-coast prep school in Massachusetts, and a military academy on the Southern coast of Guatemala. He received his undergraduate degree at California State University, Long Beach and his graduate degree from Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. His work has been at the heart of several controversial incidents that have stirred national debates regarding censorship in the arts. He has participated in hundreds of national and international, individual and group exhibitions, most notably: Made in California: Art, Image & Identity 1900-2000 at the LA County Museum of Art, Potentially Harmful: The Art of American Censorship at Georgia College and State University in Atlanta GA, and the 10th Biennale of Havana, in Havana, Cuba. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Art in America, Flash Art, Artpapers, ArtForum, ArtN