Puto el último
Moises Salazar is a first-generation Mexican American. Growing up in Chicago, Salazar experienced the challenges of being accepted as a US citizen. Feelings of otherness and a constant sense of anxiety over their immigration status and physical safety presented many obstacles. Salazar’s queer identity added another layer of complexity to their life. For their inaugural solo exhibition at the gallery, Salazar takes a very personal look at their journey and how their life experience informs their artistry.
Salazar writes: “Puto el último, Last one there is a fag” is a phrase I heard many times throughout my childhood. It was used to indicate the beginning of an improvised race. It was so important for me not to be last and be labeled the “Puto/Fag”. As a developing queer I ran as fast as I could for the sake of my survival. In those moments I was not racing to avoid last place but to keep my dignity, to show that I deserve a seat at the table alongside the men in my family. To be “Puto” was to be last, the loser, unworthy. At that age I told myself that if I was going to be queer I better be the fastest one of all.
Everyone was willing to push their physical limits to not be “puto”. Puto el último is a homage for the queer in last place. Puto el último is a collection of glitter works that examine the possibilities when we reject the notion of competition and male urgency. This body of work explores leisure, play, and healing. The figures in the paintings are not scared to end up in last place. The figures in the exhibition exist in a freedom that we are all capable of but are too scared to commit to.”
Utilizing glitter on board, faux fur, and yarn, Salazar creates images that are pleasing to the eye and proudly defiant. Whether posing provocatively, or sporting a cowboy hat, there is a tenderness that envelopes each figure. The viewer craves to touch and stroke the soft surfaces. Perhaps this is a metaphor for wanting to comfort the artist and somehow lessen the trauma and sadness. During this time of cultural reconciliation, let this exhibition serve as a beacon of hope for everyone struggling to find their place proudly in this world.
About Moises Salazar
Moises Salazar is a non-binary queer artist from Chicago. Being first generation Mexican American has cemented a conflict within Moises Salazar’s political identity, which is the conceptual focus of their practice. Whether addressing queer or immigrant bodies, their practice is tailored to showcasing the trauma, history, and barriers these people face. Reflecting on the lack of space and agency they possess, Salazar presents queer and immigrant bodies in environments where they can thrive and be safe. The spaces the figures inhabit are colorful, gentle, soft, and safe. The use of glitter, paper mache, and yarn are important in their work because of their cultural and personal value.
The work of Moises Salazar is meant to showcase the trauma, history, and current state that undocumented immigrants and queer folk face. It is by examining the intersections of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, queerness and the history of the United States that Moises Salazar addresses the reality of the barriers that immigrants and queer individuals face with the intention to begin to dismantle the myths and stereotypes used to criminalize and dehumanize them. Salazar’s work has previously been exhibited by HAIR+NAILS in their solo show Ni De Aquí, Ni De Allá (Aug/Sep 2020), and The long Dream at the MCA.