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Visual ventriloquist

Enrique Chagoya's passion and embrace of hybridity are at the core of 'Borderlandia,' a survey at the UC Berkeley Art Museum.

March 17, 2008|Leah Ollman | Special to The Times

Chagoya paints himself into his scenes occasionally, and he acts the artistic cannibal in part to bring attention to the way artists of European heritage have long poached on the artistic legacies of cultures they have also dominated politically. The hierarchy shifts in Chagoya's hands -- he calls what he does "reverse anthropology." The work can feel wonderfully edgy and irreverent -- distorted maps finally redrawn, the greedy getting their due -- or just plain amusing, like a cartoon with well-aimed barbs: George W. Bush and his first Cabinet drawn as the seven dwarfs, under the bitter watch of then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as Snow White.

Chagoya is a satirist in the tradition of Daumier and Hogarth and in the good company of his Southern California peers Sandow Birk and Einar and Jamex de la Torre. He practices an adept visual ventriloquism, assuming the voices of countless artists across the centuries and the continents. What makes his thievery so unusual, so smart and so compelling is that he gives back as much as he takes.


'Enrique Chagoya: Borderlandia'

Where: UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, 2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday

Ends: May 18

Price: $8

Contact: (510) 642-0808 or

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