|Jota Castro | discrimination|
In the late 1990s Jota Castro brought his career as a diplomat at the United Nations and the European Union to a close and decided to devote himself totally to the field of art. Through his different professional activities, Castro gained in-depth knowledge of the world of politics; moreover, he considers his studies in law and political science as his real training in art. Conjuring up trivial humor, politically incorrect sarcasm, and a wide range of references, Castro's sculptures, installations, and performances point up certain mechanisms at work in society, whose imbalances and weaknesses are skillfully highlighted by the artist. Castro's works reinterpret facts connected with current events along with the artist's personal history.
Since it first opened its doors, the Palais de Tokyo has been a repeated supporter of the artist. He was first invited to devise a Tokyorama (a thematic journey designed by the artist), then to take part in the show "Hardcore, vers un nouvel activisme" in March 2003. For the latter the artist created a space that displayed the clues he himself had picked up while shadowing Nicolas Sarkozy in order to offer visitors to the exhibition an instruction manual (!) for kidnapping the rising star of French politics. Castro's recent piece titled "Love Hotel" is both an art gallery that is meant to be visited by day and a space to rent out by night for fulfilling all your sexual fantasies. "Love Hotel" offers a setting that is not the least coy about its use, which is furthermore certified in writing by Jota Castro for each of the site's clients. Thus, "Love Hotel"'s temporary occupants will also become an integral part of the show.
"Exposition Universelle 1" features a series of recent and new works. A direct connection with the working out of his critical thought, a reflection of its own fragility, an aspiration to universalism, each of these pieces raises direct questions and forces us, through our experience of it, to challenge our biases. For Castro, the place where he shows his art is likewise an experiential object and a source of critical inspiration. "Created for the World Fair of 1937, the Palais de Tokyo," Castro points out, "symbolized at the time the supposedly technical superiority of White Europe over the rest of the world. France was then a colonial power that wanted to show off its modernity. This historical fact inspired the intention behind the show, which returns to the theme of universality in order to point up both our age's and my own personal contradictions."
For the opening of "Exposition Universelle 1" at the Palais de Tokyo, Castro will give a performance called "Discrimination Day" that is meant to present the recurrent excesses of what the French call the délit de faciès, literally "facial crime," i.e., being stopped by the police because of the color of one's skin. This Franco-Peruvian artist would like to make us more keenly aware of this "offence." He will transform the Palais de Tokyo into a sounding board for a reality that is lived everyday by thousands of citizens, a reality that is a far cry from the republican principles of liberty, equality and brotherhood. For that one evening, Castro intends to stand the process on its head: people who are never victims of such police checks will suffer the effects in this case. Thanks to their participation, the public constitute the work "designed" by the artist.
Echoing the political debates over affirmative action and its pernicious effects, Castro, a former international jurist, symbolically questions the legislation on this particularly delicate topic. Like Michael Moore in film, Jota Castro is an activist artist who spotlights the absurdities of a particular system in order to denounce its failures.
Jota Castro was born in Peru in 1965. He lives and works in Brussels.
Curator: Jérôme Sans; assistant Elodie Royer
February 4 - April 3, 2005
Link to Palais de Tokyo website to download 4 Jota Castro video clips
|Palais de Tokyo
site de création contemporaine
13, avenue du Président Wilson