Cog•nate Collective (founded in 2010 and based in National City, CA) explores cultural consumption through spaces of exchanged goods, using an interdisciplinary practice to dive into the concept of cultural consumption. Their work focuses on how systems of multi-cultural exchange shape identity within cross-border market spaces.
Since beginning their collaboration in 2010, their work has interrogated the evolution of the border as it is simultaneously erased by neoliberal economic policies and bolstered through increased militarization –tracing the fallout of this incongruence for migrant communities on either side of the border. As a result, their inter-disciplinary projects often address issues of citizenship, migration, informal economies, and popular cultural, arguing for understanding the border as a region that expands and contracts with the movement of people and objects.
Cog•nate Collective’s interdisciplinary practice holds space for more inclusive forms of community as they explore trans-border territories that expand and contract with the movement of people and objects. In an ongoing body of work, the artists investigate the cultural production, circulation, and consumption that takes place in street markets and swap meets like the ones they grew up visiting on weekends with their families in Southern California and Baja California. These spaces of exchange foster social connection and sustain ties to home-lands near and far for immigrant neighborhoods and working-class communities of color. In Tianquiztli: Portraits of the Market as Portal, the artists inhabit the poetic space that links contemporary marketplaces along the border and pre-Columbian markets in Mexico.
Tianguis, a word used for open-air markets in Mexico, is derived from Tianquiztli, meaning “gathering place” in Nahuatl (the language of the Mexica/Aztec people). Tianquiztli is also used to refer to the constellation commonly known as the Pleiades, whose clustered appearance gives the impression of a celestial marketplace. Inspired by the connection between the Tianguis and the stars, Cog•nate undertook a series of projects within marketplaces in the United States-Mexico border region and in Mexico City to underscore the ways that these spaces serve as a crossroads between the celestial and the terrestrial, the symbolic and the material, and the ancestral and our present everyday.
These works reflect a vision of markets as spaces whose importance is not solely determined by their economic function, but by their role as a portal, a landscape, a paradigm, and a politics of collectivity we have inherited from our ancestors. One that is re-enacted and approximated to find joy and belonging in the face of social and economic alienation. The chaos, ritual, tenderness, nostalgia, harshness, and frenetic energy of the market are our teachers – what will we learn from them?
Cog•nate Collective develops research projects, public interventions, and experimental pedagogical programs in collaboration with communities across the US/Mexico border region.
They have exhibited work locally and internationally at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Getty Center, The Craft Contemporary, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, FLACSO Arte Actual in Quito, Ecuador, and the Organ Kritischer Kunst in Berlin, Germany. Regionalia, a monograph of their work was published by X Artists’ Books in 2020.
Cog•nate is a collaboration between Misael Diaz, Assistant Professor of Art, Media, and Design at California State University, San Marcos and Amy Sanchez Arteaga, Lecturer of Art History at San Diego State University. Their practice is currently based in National City, CA, and they work between Tijuana, BC and Los Angeles, CA.
This exhibition is generously supported by