Curated by Manuel Segade, the midcareer retrospective of Alexánder Apóstol, “Posture and Geometry in the Era of Tropical Autocracy,” reveals the conceptual coherence and formal brilliance of the artist’s work over the past twenty years, revolving around the problematic recent history of Venezuela and its conflicted assumption of the ethics and aesthetics of Western modernity.
These concerns are reflected in the bittersweet sarcasm of one of Apóstol’s best-known and most pioneering works, Avenida Libertador, 2006, which was shot on the eponymous street in Caracas. Over the course of the six-minute video, trans and transvestite sex workers introduce themselves using the names of hallowed Venezuelan modernists like Gego, Carlos Cruz-Díez, and Jesús Rafael Soto—artists whose works decorate the avenue. Both the display of queer identities and the ironic handling of the country’s authority figures, past and present, find echoes in the monumental gallery of photographic portraits Regime: Dramatis Personae, 2018. The artist produced this masterpiece of political satire in Caracas during the turbulent 2017 protests against Maduro. The images show various trans individuals dressed up to embody different avatars and archetypal characters (“the ideological tourist,” “the caudillo,” “the imprisoned political opponent”) from the bitter and bloody vaudeville of Venezuelan politics.
Through its careful and piercing reappraisal of official political and artistic discourses in Venezuela, the show establishes Apóstol’s art as fundamental in understanding the recent historical drift of his country.