(b. Quito, Ecuador, 1964)
Miguel Alvear’s work encompasses film, contemporary art and the performing arts, where he works variously as project director, producer, curator, research coordinator, and VJ. Most of his projects are collaborations with photographers, musicians, actors, and designers, along with artists who draw on vernacular and informal traditions: amateur and self-taught filmmakers, artisans, and pop musicians and singers. His art practice dodges categorization and moves freely between disciplines, cultural spheres, and social sectors. Alvear’s creative approach calls for a cross-curricular analysis that seeks to shape a different type of work logic from the apparent chaos, leading to a deep-seated, ongoing reflection on the profound cultural dilemmas present in Ecuadorian society. His projects also address the social, cultural, and economic dilemmas that arise when the promise of modernity clashes --and coexists-- with the inequalities of colonialism. Focusing both his lens and his attention on ethnicity and race, class and gender, Alvear has shown that the dilemma surrounding identity is alive and well in societies scarred by colonialism, and that it pervades contemporary theory, practices and institutions.
He has taken part in the following exhibitions, among others: Changing the Focus in Latin American Photography 1990-2005, MOLAA, Long Beach (2008); Heterónimos, los otros de uno mismo/ Andén 16, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid (2005) and Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito (2006); Arte Contemporáneo y Patios de Quito (2010) in which he carried out the relational intervention, El patio de los pecadores; El d_efecto barroco. Políticas de la imagen Hispana, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Quito (2011). His film work includes curatorship and the experimental video Visionarios. Audiovisual en Latinoamérica (2009), in addition to Ecuador bajo tierra. The research project Videografías en circulación paralela (2009) reflected on pop videos, low-budget films and self-taught film-making in Ecuador, which led him to participate in two editions (2009 and 2013) of the Ecuador Bajo Tierra Film Festival.
Miguel Alvear is currently conducting the UNOXMIL photography project, which has called on a wide range of Ecuadorians to show solidarity with isolated ethnic peoples whose survival has been threatened following the Ecuadorian government’s decision to allow oil drilling and production in Yasuní National Park. See: http://unoxmil.com
The following interview with Miguel Alvear is part of a larger publication on his work published by the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Quito. It was published to coincide with his participation and the screening of his film Blak Mama (2009) in the 55th Venice Biennial. Made in partnership with Patricio Andrade, this surrealistic ethnographic film delves into Ecuador’s official history, local identities and pop culture from the perspective of recycling and appropriation as an outrageous metaphor for cultural transformation.