Storefront for Art and Architecture opened Something Broke: 2011-Windows-2021, an exhibition by Buenos Aires-based artist Mariela Scafati that presents an installation of hand-painted posters lettered by the artist with her writings and reflections on art, activism, and community. The exhibition, hosted at Storefront’s gallery space at 97 Kenmare Street, is open Wednesday through Saturday until September 15th, 2021.
“The body, fluid barricade,” states one of 60 monochrome posters hand-painted by artist Mariela Scafati in shades that range from militant red to wild pink. For this installation, Scafati reaches back to 2011, when she presented an exhibition entitled Windows in Buenos Aires. Ten years later, she revisits and expands upon this body of work, recontextualizing it in light of the intermediate decade of transfeminist activism that has intensely impacted the artist and those around her. “I don’t know if I can define these ten years with words, but possibly with colors.”
“A self portrait in reds and pinks,” offers Scafati by way of description. Something Broke is a diary of the personal and the collective, in the form of paintings that are both poems and protest signs. It’s a window into the artist’s body as a painter, a teacher, an activist, a queer silkscreener, and – as of recently – a mother. It’s a spectrum of visceral crimsons.
It’s the color of attention. “Rush of affection for you,” she pronounced, as broadcasts from around the world seemed to be permanently streaming on the windows of her computer screen. In 2021, upon leaving a window open in her house, a neighbor passed by and said “Let me know if you need anything.” This gesture of support became more common than ever before during the pandemic, and it continues to be.
It’s the color of boldness. “Sí se puede. To smile, to cry, they are part of the same,” she declared at the time with a sense of lightheartedness. Now, ten years later, the feeling is different. It’s a sense of hope mixed with melancholy, knowing that we’ve been here before and uncertain what will happen next.
It’s the color of despair. “Constant loneliness, even between the crowd,” she remembers. Now, even as connectivity expands through WhatsApp and beyond, it’s hard to escape a feeling of isolation, as if something broke in the network that unites us.
Something Broke is presented as part of Building Cycles, Storefront’s ongoing curatorial program that examines building as both a place and a process. Something Broke follows three exhibitions in the cycle, Aquí vive gente, Ministry for All, and Arabesque.