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Nottingham Contemporary opens Asco: No Movies

Nottingham Contemporary presents Asco: No Movies an exhibition on view 12 October 2013–5 January 2014.

Asco was a Chicano artist collective active in East Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s, with a core membership of four: Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie F. Herrón III and Patssi Valdez. In their later years Asco numbered a few dozen artists, acquiring the characteristics of a movement. The importance of Asco to the recent art history of Los Angeles has only been belatedly recognized.

Meeting in high school, their work emerged out of the Chicano (Mexican-American) civil rights struggle of the late ’60s, but contrary to the aesthetics of the Chicano Movement, Asco injected fiction into the socio-political reality of their immediate environment. Theirs was a unique performative language that borrowed from B-movies, then nascent glam rock, telenovelas and Happenings. Their performances were often made to be photographed, and the resulting images anticipated the concerns of postmodern constructed photography of the late 1970s and 1980s. While their imagery was often linked to fantasy and fiction, many of their performances occurred without permission or notice on the site of and in the immediate aftermath of a violent incident in their neighborhood—the site of fatal shootings of demonstrators by the Los Angeles Police Department in one instance.

This exhibition, Asco’s first solo show in Europe, curated by Irene Aristizábal and Alex Farquharson, is a collaboration with de Appel arts center in Amsterdam and CAPC Contemporary Art Museum, Bordeaux. It builds on the precedent of their recent acclaimed retrospective Asco: Elite of the Obscure, curated by Rita Gonzalez and C. Ondine Chavoya on behalf of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Williams College Museum of Art.

On this occasion, Patssi Valdez has been in residence remaking a performance and installation, Paper Fashion Show (1980). Several of their most iconic works are being presented on a large scale for the first time. A documentary film directed by Alvaro Parra made with and about Asco has been commissioned.

Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross