Artist Talk (En Español) With María Elena Pombo PETRÓLEO, HECHO EN CABIMAS, CHAMA

Saturday, June 15 • 3–4PM
In the Galleries
En Español with Live English Translation

Experience Art! The Sixth AIM Biennial (Part Two) Closing Event includes Petróleo, Hecho en Cabimas, Chama—an artist talk with 2023 Bronx Museum Fellow María Elena Pombo about her pieces, Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx and Petrolandia in Four Acts, which are currently on view in our galleries.

The talk is en Español with live English translations. Drop-ins are welcome, but please let us know if you plan to stop by with an RSVP.

Artist-Led Event
Jun 15, 2024      3pm - 4pm

Petróleo, Hecho en Cabimas, Chama

The artist describes her Artist Talk as follows:

Petróleo, Hecho en Cabimas, Chama is a conversation between artist María Elena Pombo and her uncle, Régulo Reyes, who collaborated with her on the artworks Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx and Petrolandia in Four Acts—both on view now at The Bronx Museum in Part Two of The Sixth AIM Biennial exhibition. The conversation will take place en Español with live English translations. Audience members are welcome to ask questions in Spanish or English.

Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx and Petrolandia in Four Acts are part of Pombo’s ongoing project They Called it Mena’, which explores petroleum’s past, present, and future, focusing on overlooked histories. “Mena’” is the word used by the Wayuu people to refer to the black and viscous material (petroleum) that emanates from their territory’s subsoil.

María Elena Pombo, 'Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx' & 'Petrolandia in Four Acts' (They Called it Mena’), 2024. Image by Argenis Apolinario.

Pombo and Reyes will speak about making these artworks and share process images and videos. They will also discuss how petroleum has affected life in Cabimas, Venezuela—Reyes & Pombo’s mother’s hometown and the city where Venezuela’s petroleum industry was born.

Specifically, they will touch on topics explored in Pombo’s video work Petrolandia in Four Acts like Barroso II’s 1922 oil rain, current days-long lines to fill cars with gasoline, petroleum leaks, algae bloom that can be seen from outer space, petroleum hunters, DIY gasoline makers, water shortages, electricity shortages—and how despite everything, Venezuelan people maintain nostalgia for the past and hope for the future.

María Elena Pombo, 'Petrolandia in four Acts (They Called it Mena'), 2024. Photo by Argenis Apolinario.

For her installation artwork Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx—Pombo soaked silk panels in petroleum that was given to her by her uncle, Reyes. Reyes himself had been gifted the petroleum for making gasoline amidst the current fuel shortages in Cabimas, Venezuela.

The artwork seeks to start conversations around the Venezuelan government’s 2005 decision to invest millions of dollars from CITGO, its US-based petroleum company, in “humanitarian aid” for The South Bronx, New York. This was part of a larger petro-diplomacy campaign that continues today amidst Venezuela’s economic collapse.

With Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx, Pombo looks to re-imagine multipolar world-building, centering citizens instead of governments.

María Elena Pombo, Venezuelan Petroleum for the South Bronx,' 2024. Photo by Argenis Apolonario.

About María Elena Pombo

María Elena Pombo’s work has been presented via exhibitions and talks at Somerset House (London), 

Mana Contemporary (Jersey City), Yamamoto-Seika (Osaka), Fabbrica del Vapore (Milan), New Museum (New York), Venice Biennale di Archittectura (Venice), Advanced Transit Mix Corp (Brooklyn), and more. She won the 2021 London Design Biennale’s Theme Medal and has received grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, Queens Council on the Arts, and more. Pombo is faculty at Parsons School of Design and was an instructor at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the New York Botanical Garden. Pombo was a 2023 AIM Fellow at The Bronx Museum.

Portrait of María Elena Pombo with her work 'Venezuelan Petroleum for The South Bronx,' 2024. Photo by Argenis Apolinario.
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