Carlos Motta: An Interview

Video Data Bank

2014 | 01:00:28 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: Interviews, On Art and Artists

Tags: Activism, Conceptual Art, History, Indigenous, LGBTQ, Latino/Chicano, Post-colonialism, Race, Sexuality

In the case of Carlos Motta’s career, the impetus has always been on, not adhering to particular medium or a particular style, but rather using media as it becomes appropriate tell a story that has heretofore been stifled by dominant power structures. The technical variability of his work is only matched by its potential to generate conversation and discourse in the arenas of sexuality, gender, democracy and colonialism – usually as a conflux of all four through historical excavation. This interview focuses on works that do precisely that, such as the Nefandus Trilogy, and how their operational logics open onto more activist sentiments than purely aesthetic considerations.

Uncovering the silenced histories of the past, or even the present, through archival research into colonial conquest, and dialogic engagement with Latin American countries today, defines the work of Motta as he describes it in this interview. What results are projects deeply rooted in their geographical specificity. This is something the artist describes as a way to engage more fully in the communities with which he interacts – noting that the critical frameworks of the queer studies he’s interested in applying to his works are most typically developed in American and European epistemological spaces, not those of the “Global South.” Providing ways to think through the legacies of colonialism as they relate to sexuality and gender, but doing so in a way that is tailored to the colonized space – not those of the colonizers – is at the heart of Motta’s work.

— Nicolas Holt, 2016

Interview conducted by SAIC Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History, David Getsy


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