RECORDINGS OF AN IMMIGRANT
Vincent A. Goudreau and Juan Aquino
May 7 – July 10, 2016
Opening Reception: May 7, 7-10pm
“When you learn your golf swing with a machete, you never look up”
– Juan Aquino
Born and raised in Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala, Juan Aquino, started working in the cane fields with his father at the young age of 8. His father was an educated family man with a big beard who was always smoking cigars. Juan’s father taught him to be consistent in his machete swing, to follow through, to open his stance, to use his whole body, and most importantly, to never look up. These lessons passed on from father to son also made Juan the exemplary golfer he is today. This exhibition, however, is not about golf – it is about a journey and survival.
November 1, 1981, was Juan’s 13th birthday. The date marked another noteworthy occasion, the day when Juan’s father was scheduled to testify at the Supreme Court in Guatemala. Juan’s father was a cane field worker turned labor leader representative. The planned testimony was an effort to provide details on the environmental pollution being created from chemicals used by a foreign processing plant on the river in their village and fight for workers rights. November 1, 1981, also marks the day Juan witnessed the tragic assassination of his father by three gunmen. These men abruptly drove up next to him on a path near his home, exited their pick-up truck, and shot Juan’s father down in cold blood, preventing his testimony.
Juan wasn’t planning to come to the US, but after witnessing his father’s murder, and watching his mother die from cancer two years later as the result of the polluted water, he was forced on this journey to provide for his remaining family. Recordings of an Immigrant is a survival story, one man’s journey to escape personal tragedy and the genocide of the Guatemalan civil war. It is a journey that traverses Mexico, enters the US in the trunk of a car, finds itself in a Fullerton drop house, lands in mid-80’s South Central Los Angeles, makes its way to Hawaii, only to end up in the courtrooms of the island.
The cornerstones of Juan’s life and what they encompass read more like an epic morality tale than a modern day story of immigration, poverty, violence, and corruption. It’s a reflection of the 80’s, a period of aggressive foreign nation intervention in Central America and failed intercity polices domestically, both of which brought about devastating personal tragedies. In spite of its extraordinary circumstances, this is a contemporary narrative set amidst the backdrop of the current and continued US immigration debate. Recordings of an Immigrant provides a moment of pause, an opportunity to confront taboo issues and explore how we as people judge one another.
More detail on the project can be found at: http://recordingsofanimmigrant.com/
We dedicate this exhibition to all the families who suffered from the assassinations and forced disappearances during the Guatemalan civil war, as well as to Juan’s father who fought for those families, future generations, and the well being of his country.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
Vincent Goudreau and Juan first met in 2005 and in 2012 decided to collaborate on recording his memoirs, creating a non-fiction narrative that has inspired this interdisciplinary project. The project includes a 218-page book compiled from transcribed audio recordings, video and sound pieces, works on paper, sculptural installations, and this culminating exhibition.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Vincent Goudreau received his B.F.A. at the California Institute of the Arts as well as studying at the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland. His work has been presented through exhibition and screenings at prestigious institutions internationally, including: Migrant Film Festival, Ljubljana, Slovenia; The Biennial of Hawaii Artists, Honolulu Museum of Art; 64th Festival de Cannes, Court Metrage, Cannes, France; 49th Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Michigan; International Festival of Contemporary Art, Republic of Georgia; The Contemporary Museum Honolulu Biennial; Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona; Santa Barbara Contemporary Forum; Anexo Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico; GMAC Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland; Galerie fur Gegenwartskunst Barbara Claassen-Schmal, Bremen, Germany; Muestra de Video Cracion Alma de Rana International, T20 Arte Contemporaneo, Murcia, Spain; Film Biennial BLOWOUT, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver.
Recordings of an Immigrant was developed through an artist-in-residence of Grand Central Art Center, with generous support provided by Jeff Van Harte (CSUF ’80) and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.