Travis Boyer: Ahora Y Nunca
260 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
June 8 - July 9, 2017
Signal is pleased to present Ahora y Nunca, “Now and Never,” an exhibition of painting, sculpture, textiles, photography, and historical ephemera by Texas-born artist Travis Boyer, running from June 8th to July 9th, 2017
Ahora y Nunca begins with a dream of historical discontinuity, presenting works by Boyer that hail from a shadow timeline that has long persisted in the artist’s creative imagination, one that diverges from reality at the death of beloved Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla in March 1995. The same moment saw the end of the progressive and prosperous Texas Governorship of Ann Richards, in a controversial election loss to neophyte politician George W. Bush, and over the coming years the gradual dissolution of a vision of continental economic solidarity and cultural inclusiveness that had seemed on the verge of manifesting. The artist was 16.
The central works in Ahora y Nunca draw from Boyer’s imagined alternative to these events, an idyllic potentiality that has continually re-emerged to inform the artist’s life and practice. In addition to his recurring belt motif, explored here in painting on silk, another frequent theme of Boyer’s work has been the dreamt-of continuation of Quintanilla’s personal fashion line, Selena Etc. Inc., based out of her Texas salons and boutiques.
At the heart of the exhibition are a set of hand-woven luxury equestrian blankets depicting the signature stage outfits of the singer, produced by the artist in collaboration with the Biidaüü Weaving Collective, with whom he had previously lived and worked in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. Alongside these are copper-andsilver hand mirrors, fabricated in the Spratling silversmithing workshop of Boyer’s longtime friend and collaborator Violante Juanita Ulrich in Taxco, Guerrero.
These and other original works are presented together with four dresses from Selena Etc. Inc.’s 1996 season, the last in which the singer’s design collaborations with Martin Gomez would appear, displayed on dress forms loaned from the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute.
The remainder of the artist’s extensive archive of clothing, Selena-branded merchandise, catalogues, and collectibles is presented in carefully-styled storage bins, along with further materials recently uncovered from a San Antonio storage unit sealed since 1995, included from the collection of Ulrich.
In Boyer’s conception, these objects are imbued with the living potentiality of an invisible, and better, world. In his words, “Just because things go wrong, that dream doesn’t have to go away. Ambitious objects can hold the energy of a present that should have been, and a future that still could come.”
For Boyer that dream is not a nostalgic one, it exists as physical space and in physical objects: storage units where feelings can be safely hoarded. Each object and artwork is charged with learned skills, friendships, and experiences, waiting to reemerge.