"We are remembered by the traces that we leave."
—Artist Guillermo Calzadilla, quoting Walter Benjamin
Paris' Gallery Chantal Crousel's Land Marks exhibition, on view through June 18, offers an excuse to review the incredibly thoughtful and socially engaged work of Puerto Rico-based conceptual art duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. Their Landmarks (Vieques) work, shown here, is described by filmmaker Greg Allen:
The artists put political messages on the soles of shoes, which were then worn by protestors infiltrating the beaches of Vieques while the US Navy was conducting weapons tests. When protestors tripped the Navy's sensors, the tests would have to be halted; eventually the military agreed to abandon testing and its base on Vieques altogether. These photographs are documentation of repeated messages being directed specifically at the military security guards on the island; they're a form of psychological counter-operations meant to disrupt or unsettle the larger, vastly more powerful opponent.
The work's title is, like much of the pair's art, based on the myriad interpretations of language: landmark as footprint, bomb crater, or public commemoration:
What traces do we leave of our existence on earth? How is land physically scarred? Who determines which sites are worthy of historic preservation and which—like this tiny, sparsely populated island—aren't?

Allora and Calzadilla's work will be featured in this year's Venice Biennale, opening June 12.

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