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Small Talk with Allora & Calzadilla

Wednesday, Nov 11, 2020
6:00 pm
- 6:45 pm

Hosted on Zoom

Meet the artistic duo Allora & Calzadilla for Small Talk, an informal conversation happening on Zoom facilitated by Executive Director and Chief Curator Silvia Karman Cubiñá. Works by Allora & Calzadilla are now on view in The Willfulness of Objects. 


Since 1995, Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, United States) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Cuba) have built a research-based practice that responds critically to the intersections between culture, history, and geopolitics. The duo produces interdisciplinary works combining performance, sculpture, sound, video, and photography. Allora & Calzadilla live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and have exhibited their work in exhibitions around the world. In 2011, they represented the United States at the Venice Biennale.

Allora & Calzadilla, Petrified Petrol Pump (Pemex II) (2011). Photography by Zachary Balber.

Petrified Petrol Pump (Pemex II)
, 2011

Black lava and travertine stone
100 x 80 x 80 in.
Collection of The Bass
Purchased through the John and Johanna Bass Acquisition Fund.

Collaborating since 1995, Puerto Rico-based duo Allora & Calzadilla (Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla) incorporate sculpture, live performance, video, sound and photography into an exploration of geopolitics, cultural artifacts and archaeological history. Through a research-based process, they probe the structural and narrative conventions of storytelling, and investigate the potential of language and materiality.

Petrified Petrol Pump (Pemex II)’s black lava and travertine stone form a gasoline pump that appears to have been taken over by a volcanic, pyroclastic flow. The work alludes to the organic plentitude of the earth’s natural foundations and the ancient life forms that continue to provide the material used to generate energy today. Reflecting both a distant past and our current moment, Petrified Petrol Pump (Pemex II) gives a realistic imagining or warning of the future. Dark and weighty, both physically and conceptually, Allora & Calzadilla’s lava-formed “technofossil” ponders what legacy human culture will contribute to the history of the planet, positing a future littered with the byproducts of humanity.

Allora & Calzadilla, Graft (2019). Photography by Zaire Kacz.

Graft, 2019
17,500 flowers made of recycled polyvinyl chloride and paint
Edition AP1, from an edition of 3 and 2 APs
Dimensions variable
Collection of The Bass
Commissioned by The Bass and purchased through the John and Johanna Bass Acquisition Fund

Graft comprises thousands of cast blossoms of the Tabebuia chrysantha tree, a common native species in the Caribbean, appear as though a wind had swept them across the floor. Graft alludes to environmental changes set in motion through the interlocking effects of colonial exploitation and global climatic transformation. Systemic deforestation and depletion of the Caribbean’s original flora and fauna is one of the primary legacies of colonialism. Nevertheless, the Caribbean remains a biodiversity hotspot and, along with thirty-five other hotspots worldwide (which amount to just 2.4% of the earth’s land surface), supports nearly 60% of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species. As rising global temperatures result in more frequent and violently destructive weather, adding even more pressure to the Caribbean, the uncanny presence of tropical tree blossoms in Graft stands as a potent harbinger for the immeasurable losses that continue unabated after centuries of colonial plunder.

Petrified Petrol Pump (Pemex II) and Graft are currently on view in the exhibition, The Willfulness of Objects.


Small Talk is our latest virtual series and, just like it sounds, we’re going informal. Join us on Zoom as we introduce and get to know the voices, faces and minds behind works currently on view and in the museum’s collection.

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We are pleased to share this series with our community at no cost. If you can, please consider making a 100% tax deductible donation to the museum.

Suggested Donation: $10


Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges.


Wednesday, Nov 11, 2020
6:00 pm - 6:45 pm
Event Category: