the word the wall la palabra la pared (exhibition), 2017

"the word the wall la palabra la pared" presents the first exhibition in Mexico City of LA based artist Kerry Tribe. Tribe’s new works in video, sculpture and photography playfully literalize ideas around linguistic communication, translation and empathy.


The exhibition continues Tribe’s investigation of the “speaking subject” who narrates their experience for an audience. The show is organized around a video in English and Spanish called Afasia (2017) which features the artist’s friend, photographer Christopher Riley, and the artist herself. At the age of 43, Chris Riley suffered a left hemisphere stroke that severely limited his ability to speak, write and understand language. Despite these challenges, he passionately communicates an appreciation of his life and the vast world around him. Tribe, meanwhile, describes her experience trying to learn how to speak Spanish. The video is projected in a make-shift screening room built from the remains of what had previously been the gallery’s front wall.


An installation composed of a series of prints, photographs of one of Riley’s favorite rocks and equipment normally used behind the scenes in photography and video production occupy the gallery’s second room, expanding on ideas initiated in the video. The experience that this installation produces—inverting the space and the gravitational orientation of the objects exhibited–produces a kind of "cognitive dissonance" in the spectator, a sensation of vertigo and instability similar to that suggested in the video, where the subjects do their best to communicate despite the nature of their situation. Upstairs, a silent monitor displays one single word after another, forming a string of idiomatic expressions that try to make sense of a constantly shifting world.


"the world the wall la palabra la pared" establishes parallels between problems encountered in the field of language from both natural and cultural perspectives, suggesting larger questions about the nature of communication and understanding between people, and the need to build new structures from ruins and generate other possibilities of affection in a global context where empathy seems to be in short supply.


- Ruth Estevez, curator