Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

El Muertorider

Aug 31–Sep 16, 2012

John Jota Leaños collaborates with woodcut artist/printmaker Artemio Rodríguez for this fully functioning, artfully customized 1968 Chevy Impala lowrider. In the tradition of the Day of the Dead celebration, El Muertorider commemorates the victims of Hurricane Katrina, as well as those lives lost at war. It is also a tribute to cruising culture, in modern times heavily policed, yet part of our shared colonial past and kept alive by America’s distinctive routes—from El Camino Real (US 101) to Route 66.

Leaños has received the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts, the United States Artist Fellowship (2011), which annually recognizes 50 of the country’s greatest living artists, and the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture Artist Award (2012). His social art practice is closely identified with Xicanismo, the updated voice for Chicano/a culture, and has been shown at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, SF Moma, MOCA LA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is increasingly experienced virally as Internet videos, podcasts on mobile devices, and community concerts in unexpected public spaces in the Bay Area.

El Muertorider is on exhibit in conjunction with the MCA Stage presentation of Imperial Silence: Una Ópera Muerta by John Jota Leaños (Sep 14–16), in the Edlis Neeson Theater. The bilingual, new media opera fuses documentary animation with Mariachi music and neo-folkórico dance in a contemporary interpretation of the Mexican and Chicana/o tradition of the Days of the Dead. Leaños involved dozens of artists, writers and community members for this reimagining of historical and ‘true’ events.