CIRCA Presents: Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo Ovalles with Harley Spiller

Thursday, December 2, 6 – 7pm, Recording

Transdisciplinary artist Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo Ovalles will present his category-defying work that treads an elusive route manifesting itself performatively or through experiences where the quotidian and art overlap. Ken Dewey Director of Franklin Furnace Archive Harley Spiller will lead a lively conversation with the artist.

Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful, In Bed with the Tropicals, 2015, documentation of live action. Photo: Frances Pollit
Photo: Wadi Céspedes Raful

Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo Ovalles’s artistic practice has been informed by a strong personal interest in immigration, cultural hybridization and Estévez’s understanding of identity as a process always in flux. He approaches the concepts of home and belonging to the U.S. American context from the perspective of a Lebanese-Dominican born in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, Dominican Republic, and as a Dominican York who was baptized in 2011 as a Bronxite: a citizen of the Bronx. Estévez’s transdisciplinary work is rooted in social concerns like those taken on by seminal figures in visual arts and performance art with whom he has been involved as a student-mentee-or collaborator: Linda Mary Montano, Martha Wilson, Annie Sprinkle, Elizabeth Stephens, Arthur Avilés, Billy X. Curmano, and Coco Fusco. Estévez is invested in experimenting with art-making away from the gaze of the voyeur, and instead proposes to engage people to become active participants in the kindling or co-development of experiences. While ephemeral in nature, Estévez’s gestures gain permanence through audio recordings, photographs, podcasts, props, drawings, rumors, embodied memories, costumes, websites, videos, and publications. Estévez has exhibited or performed at Madrid Abierto/ARCO, The IX Havana Biennial, PERFORMA 05/07, IDENSITAT, Prague Quadrennial, Pontevedra Biennial, Call/Walks, Queens Museum, MoMA, Printed Matter, P.S. 122, Hemispheric Institute of Performance Art and Politics, Princeton University, Anthology Film Archives, El Museo del Barrio, Center for Book Arts, Longwood Art Gallery/BCA, The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Franklin Furnace, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. He holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art and an MA from Union Theological Seminary. Since 2006, he has pursued trainings with key people in the healing, somatic movement, and writing fields. Nicolás is the founding director of The Interior Beauty Salon, a space working at the intersection of creativity and healing.

Harley Spiller is an artist, author, collector, curator and lifelong museum worker who currently serves as the Ken Dewey Director of Franklin Furnace Archive, an arts organization based in Brooklyn, NY whose mission is to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, cultural bias, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content. Spiller’s own work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York; The New York State Museum; The Smithsonian National Museum of American History; and The University of Toronto Scarborough.  He has written for Columbia University Press, The New York Times, Oxford University Press, University of California Press, and The Wall Street Journal. Spiller holds a BA in English Literature from Northwestern University; an MA in Liberal Studies, with honors, from the New School for Social Research; and a Guinness World Record for collecting. His book Keep the Change: A Collector’s Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency (Princeton Architectural Press 2015) was deemed “beautifully written and designed” by Roberta Smith in The New York Times. Harley met Nicolás in 2004 during “For Art’s Sake,” Estevez’s series of pilgrimages to Manhattan museums in which religion became a tool in the service of art. The two have since contributed multiple times to each other’s avant-garde art projects.