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Allora & Calzadilla Puerto Rico

Allora & Calzadilla is a partnership of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. They have produced a wide-ranging body of work across sculpture, photography, performance art, sound and video. Their artistic practice engages with history and politics, addressing socio-cultural and territorial issues in ways that identify and stress the hairline fractures in society.

They represented the USA at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 with a striking exhibition organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art entitled Gloria. The controversial show included an immense inverted military tank topped by a treadmill, a large pipe organ equipped with a functioning cash-machine and a switched-on tanning bed containing a reduced bronze copy of the Statue of Freedom that has stood atop the dome of the United States Capitol since 1863. The exhibition included performances by athletes, gymnasts or Olympic medalists. Lisa Freiman, senior curator and chairwoman of the contemporary art department at the Indianapolis Museum of Art described it as “work that critically engaged the notion of national identity and Americanism”.

Another key word from their oeuvre is Landmark (2001-2002). In Vieques, Puerto Rico, the US government had created a site that for 60 years tested chemical weaponry and various forms of bombs. Allora and Calzadilla investigated the territory by creating custom soled shoes worn by activists who entered the site in an act of reclaiming and civil disobedience. The images and messages that were on the shoes functioned as foils to the bombings and antagonism to the act of military testing, as the presence of the activists made it impossible for the US military to try out their weaponry. Shortly after, the US Army permanently stopped using Vieques as a testing site. The resultant photographs tell their own story, according to the artists “We wanted to find a way to convey the diversity of this group [of activists] in the photographs. And as we noticed from the actual marks being produced in the sand – going in so many different directions, canceling each other out as one footprint replaced the other, many paths and directions appeared, both physically as well as subjectively”.

Collaborating since 1995, Allora & Calzadilla are based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They met as students while studying abroad in Florence and have been living and working together ever since. Jennifer Allora (b.1974) received a BA from the University of Richmond in Virginia in 1996 and an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003. She was a fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study program in 1998-9. Guillermo Calzadilla (b.1971) was born in Havana in 1971 and received a BFA from Escuela de Artes Plásticas in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1996 and an MFA from Bard College in 2001.  Solo exhibitions include Indianapolis Museum of Art (2012), Haus der Kunst, Munich (2008), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008), Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2007), Kunsthalle Zurich (2007). Among numerous group exhibitions, they participated in documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010) and Performance 9 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011).