by Raymond R. Beltran
‘Electronica’ music beat down from the ceiling at Tania Candiana’s “El Gorda Show”. As I sat in a stuffed vinyl, three-layered circular couch titled “Lonjas,” the walls were furnished with images of grotesque truth about human repulsion, and counter imaged with the beauty of pleasure and acceptance. People sat or stood in amazement at the painting of a woman crouched over, regurgitating the disgust she has for her body, while others enjoyed another image of immense satisfaction of a woman sculpting her next meal with clenched fingers.
The paintings, the furniture, and the music are all parts of the “El Gorda Show”. It is one of the first exhibitions that took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s new event called TNT (Thursday Night Thing), and Mexico City native Tania Candiana is one of their first artists to display her work.
TNT is the museum’s new way of gathering artists from across cultural boundaries to come together and share art from different perspectives. “We definitely want things to be culturally diverse,” says TNT’s assistant curator, Rachel Teagle. “We want people to interact with art in new ways.”
It seems in these days that a museum would have to take extreme measures to get people to attend functions in a museum. “Some people think that museums are stuffy,” says Teagle, but the MCASD is stepping up to the plate with a remarkable agenda. Beginning with the “El Gorda Show,” which is the introduction of a two-part exhibition called the Cerca Series, including digital artist Jeremy Blake next month, TNT will provide events such as a film premiere, poetry slams, d.j. premieres, open mic night, and break dancing shows.
Painter Tania Candiana is one of the first artists to display her innovative new way of painting. The twenty-eight year old Mexico City native, now living in the Tijuana, now has the ability and the support to show her work right here in downtown with TNT. Her machine-sewn canvases are extraordinarily huge and the way she weaves and paints the images of obesity in contemporary society are brutally honest.
“The project ‘El Gordas’ is composed of different parts,” says Candiana. “Here is the confrontation of sensation of pleasure when we eat, or sensation of sin. [It’s] about a woman feeling well with the way she looks and the way she is, other times [feeling] bad.” Her art consists of more than just paintings. She has invented furniture that represents the volume of the body, a three-layered marshmallow-like couch titled “Lonjas.” She has reinvented workout machines from old junk markets and added the furnishing touches of a colorful seat. She has sewn a long vinyl tube, filled it with cushion until it was about ten to fifteen feet and titled it “Tripas,” or “The Guts.”
“[The art] is provoked by all the media,” says Candiana, “the analysis, the point of view, the social-cultural view in this moment, . . . the ironic euphoria for fitness. I am not a feminist, [but] some advertisements are dangerous. [They] manipulate the way to live.”
Curators of the MCASD discovered Candiana when they were invited to see slide shows of art at the University of Tijuana. They invited her to do the Thursday Night Thing, and she premiered August 1. “We want to target the artists first,” says Teagle. “And they will bring people with them to build a commune of artists.”
As an artist from south of the border, Candiana believes that TNT is very important to the artistic cultural society on both sides of the border. “At the Cerca Series, we have the chance to share our work, to know the people that are interested,” she says. “Everyone doesn’t go to Tijuana. Nobody cares too much.” tania Candiana’s “El Gorda Show” will be on display at the MCASD downtown until September 24.
Artists are encouraged to bring new flavor or ideas to the table at the MCASD for the Thursday Night Thing. People are encouraged to take advantage of something new. As the assistant curator of the program, Teagle promises that any slides of art will be brought to the table and observed for exhibition. “The museum’s always open to artists,” says Teagle. “It’s just an informal process of getting to know people.”
The new Thursday Night Thing is a free admission event that occurs every first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 1001 Kettner Boulevard.
The museum seems to be crossing a lot of boundaries and the art at the “El Gorda Show” is extreme and true to life. And when sitting there in the “Lonjas”, staring at the machine-sewn canvases of sinful sensuality or grotesque repulsion, remember this, keep your mind open because you have just walked into the realm of something different, a new form of expression and perspective, and that is what TNT is all about.