Bestiario or “bestiary”, roughly translated, describes a compendium of animals – imaginary and real – that was bound in book or illuminated manuscript form. Dating to second century Greece, bestiaries reflected a desire to understand the natural and spiritual worlds through collecting, categorization, and comparison.
Review by Roula Seikaly
Vazquez-Concepcion makes the most of Adobe Books’ intimate gallery, spacing each object to hold its own and, when considered relationally, deliver a deeper and decidedly more troubling understanding when viewed together.
Maria Guzman-Capron’s “El Tigre y Yo” (The Tiger and I) (2017), and Mya Pagan’s “Monstrix” (2017) recall the first bestiaries and later cabinets of curiosities as embodied versions of fantastical hybrid beasts, but with a subversive twist. Working with discounted fabrics, Guzman-Capron fashions a half-tiger, half-human sculpture that lounges atop a low plinth as though enjoying celebrity status. Mya Pagan offers a playful Pan-like creature revealed by a drawn curtain – again half human and half animal – covered in luxurious fur and crowned with flowers and horns. Engaging objects both, especially because their inclusion within this exhibitionary context points to the wholescale degradation colonized people – women in particular – faced as they were enslaved, displayed like circus attractions for lurid consumer satisfaction, and civilized (read: stripped of their individuality and autonomy) for their own good.