Artist and educator Pablo Helguera cordially invites you to "Club Americano," an intimate one-room exhibition and shared space at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Artworks in the space, selected by Helguera in collaboration with MFA curators, serve as the subject of three performances that examine their histories through a present-day lens.
This evening gathering of diverse voices in “Club Americano” addresses how we perceive distant times and places through optical illusions, printed matter and the narrative tradition “magical realism” in Latin America. Writers associated with this literary movement blurred distinctions between past and present, reality and the supernatural, to portray the complex underpinnings of daily life. Helguera pays tribute to Alfonso Reyes with his performance of Reyes’s surreal, 1912 short story, “La Cena (The Dinner).” A foundational figure in modern Mexican literature, little-known outside of Latin America, Reyes influenced generations of surrealist and magical realist artists and writers to come.
The program provides background on magical realism and intersects it with both contemporary artistic production and historic New England through a presentation on the perspective machine, a technological marvel of the 18th century. This optical device and parlor toy, an example of which is in the MFA’s collection, was used to view prints that “transported” the viewer to faraway places or recounted notable moments in European history. Audience members are invited to peer into the MFA’s perspective machine to view historic and contemporary prints, demonstrating how images have long had the power to shape our impressions of reality. A live drawing session and story telling will overlay distinct geographies onto the present time and place.
Speakers and performers include:
• Pablo Helguera
• Dennis Carr, the MFA's Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture in Art of the Americas
• Marina Nguyen, a member of the MFA’s Teen Arts Council
• Doris Sommer, director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies
• Raúl Gonzalez, Boston-based visual artist