Jorge Pardo: Mongrel
Jorge Pardo: Mongrel, a new site-specific installation by the Cuban American artist, transforms MOAD’s largest space into a quasi-domestic interior. Acclaimed for elaborate installations that explore the overlooked or repressed histories of spaces and objects, Pardo references mid-century architecture and design by repurposing, remaking, and recombining decorative and utilitarian domestic furnishings and fixtures. The artist immigrated to the United States as a child, passing through Miami’s Freedom Tower, then used as a reception center for Cuban refugees. His memories of the welcoming architectural landmark, which now houses the Museum of Art and Design, inextricably intertwine with those of the trauma, displacement, and loss caused by the Cuban regime’s confiscation of the emigrants’ family photographs and documents. Pardo’s conversion of the Museum’s imposing two-story Skylight Gallery into a multimedia environment using both family and found photos, and lamps created by mixing components of other lamps, speaks to his personal connections with the place, the sense of dislocation of the immigrant experience, and the resultant hybrid identities.
Mongrel couples the artist’s signature methods and strategies with a new emphasis on personal narrative to speak to the powerful story of his own family’s immigration. Like many of Pardo’s immersive environments, Mongrel employs tropes taken from interior and industrial design to reveal deeper meanings and emotive currents that underlie our attachments to aesthetic modes and architectural spaces. The stories of people assuming the hyphenated identities of immigrants find echoes in the sutured styles of the light fixtures, alluding to the potent impact of memory and history in our apprehension of interior design and architecture—and vice versa. Pardo’s exhibition reanimates the personal and cultural history of the Freedom Tower, a single building that epitomizes a critical part of the American experience. Investigating the affect of design and architecture, Pardo offers the viewer a space orchestrated to incite reflections on displacement, loss, resilience, and hope.
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1963, Jorge Pardo studied at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and received his BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Pardo’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Pinacoteca de Estado São Paulo, São Paulo (2019); Musée des Augustins, Toulouse (2014); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2010); K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2009); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2008); and Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2007). Paintings by the artist were included in the 57th Venice Biennale (2017). Jorge Pardo currently lives and works in Mérida, Mexico.
This exhibition is curated by Rina Carvajal, MOAD's Executive Director and Chief Curator, and is made possible by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.