Oscar Arriola

PAZ: Piñatas & Zines

Elastic Arts is pleased to announce PAZ: Piñatas & Zines, an exhibition by Oscar Arriola, opening on Saturday, December 9.


In PAZ: Piñatas & Zines, Oscar Arriola uncovers latent potentialities in a conceptual congruence between seemingly unrelated uses of paper. He shows us that there are more connections between piñatas and zines than we might see at first glance. Both are vernacular forms that are emblematic of the communities who use them. Both are inert and unfulfilled without people to activate them. Each object functions – gathering and circulating people in its own way – and becomes an anchor point for the social cohesion by which a community constitutes itself. If zines have often been used to connect communities with esoteric interests and musings dispersed across wide geographies, piñatas perform the blunt task of punctuating a space and marking those gathered there, however briefly, as a community of celebrants. Between these two traditions we see paper used as a surface to encode information and as a cheap material to be dyed and layered to generate expressive forms. Arriola challenges us to envision zines as objects to be exploded open ecstatically, with kids scurrying around to gather up the treats hidden within them; to ask what genealogies of craft and deft economies of material can be made legible in piñatas if we examine them as a sprawling archive of forms passed down through families and local customs. PAZ: Piñatas & Zines will include photos by Adam Jason Cohen and Leo Godoy; piñatas by Oscar Arriola, Celina Rivera, Julia Banderas, and Pau Venadito; paintings by The Viking, Brooks Golden, J. Otto Seibold; prints by CHema Skandal!; and images from zines by Andrew Shirley, Keith Herzik, Tom Guenther, Desilu Muñoz, Joe Alone, Edie Fake; and others.


Oscar Arriola, in many ways, typifies Chicago’s characteristic collaborative and trans-displinary modality of -making, not only in the way his feet are planted in a variety of disciplines (photography, DIY culture, library science) but also in the way he aggregates people within those scenes and amplifies the visibility of their efforts. His ZINEmercado festival (organized with CHema Skandal) brings together DIY publishers from a variety of styles and backgrounds, showing both the breadth of the zine genre and the way it is refracted and interpreted through different sub-genres and sub-cultures. The sticker-drawing events he has programmed at various spaces (from DIY spots, to the MCA) emphasize the simple pleasure of people gathered in a space drawing together. Even his social media activity on demonstrates an unbelievably rigorous, real-time documentation of a wide gamut of Chicago art culture: museum shows, vernacular sign painters, commercial gallery openings, agitprop at political rallies, Virgin Mary murals inside mechanic shops, dance parties, skateboard designs, experimental electronic music concerts, graffiti-tag language fragments, interior shots of commercial printing presses, and more. Ariola’s work emphasizes the need to question how some cultural products garner serious consideration from art gatekeepers and others don’t.

Reception: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9th | 7 PM