Reading the Label Code of Hector Canonge

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Hispanic cult figures, like Libertad Lamarque, Lola Flores, and María Felix are among many of the icons that have been ingeniously captured and connected to a barcode label of everyday products that Hector Canonge reassigns in his creative installation IDOLatries.  This exhibition includes his most recent work and is featured as part of the very competitive program, Artists in the Marketplace 27th Annual Exhibition: Here and Elsewhere, at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Name: Hector Canonge
Age: In his 30’s
Raices: Born in Argentina; raised in Bolivía, Spain and the United States
Current location: New York City
Education: Comparative literature, filmmaking and integrated new media arts
Previous work: As a filmmaker, he has produced and directed documentaries (ECOscapes, 2006; FoodMobil, 2004; Go Boys!, 1998). His interactive work has been featured on the Internet (HcVTR, Mexicanismos, Senses) and his New Media projects (Ciudad Transmobil, 2004; QUADROLOGYAS, 2005; 200mm3, 2006) have been exhibited in museums, universities, and art collectives. He has also organized the Latin American Cinema Festival of NY (LaCinemafe 2001/2004), is the creator and director of the monthly Queens’ Only Queer Film Series, CINEMAROSA – now hosted at the Queens Museum of Art, and is one of the founders of QMAD – Queens Media Arts Development – a not for profit arts organization.
What is the essence of your art?
I don’t believe in essentialism(s). Pero si te refieres a mi arte, I always find ways to tell a story whether is through literature, the moving image or using new media as a way to integrate various technologies and narrative forms like non-linear interactive installations. Muy a lo Borges with a little bit of Faulkner and the punch of Derek Jarman.
What inspires you or nourishes you intellectually?
Quien y que van juntos. I take inspiration from daily life and a good discussion about who we are and what role we play in this world. I like to deal with and question topics related to the search for identity, gender politics, immigration (particularly Hispanic), and of course, love and desire in their many incarnations. I always find myself questioning el arraigamiento of people – that fascinates me. Soy un buen observador, I listen and rastreo ideas in places that for some people might be irrelevant. IDOLatries, my most recent work is a bit of that…
What are the origins of IDOLatries?
IDOLatries is the second project of the series UDCODE+ (the other, 200mm3, was about HIV/AIDS) where I explore the (de)codification of our society, as a whole, using visual narratives, commercial devices, materials and objects as fully interactive environments.
Did it come about from shopping at the supermarket?
Sí y no. I don’t like crowed spaces like supermarkets or shopping malls, but there I was one day, when I started to notice that some products had iconographic representations of women. The archetypical role that women have played through out the ages: “the femme fatale,” “the virgin,” “mother” and “whore” appeared all there on these canned, packaged or boxed products that are sold and used daily. Along with the images there was the required UPC (Universal Product Code) that gives the products their authenticity and validation. It was a perfect match for me. After that I did a lot of supermarket shopping, but usually on Monday afternoons –less crowded- and more interesting…
What is the main idea behind IDOLatries?
The main idea of the piece is to make the observer realize that beneath the package and labeling there is a very strong message of role playing and gender division. The 16 or so products included in the installation relate to these universal feminine archetypes whose counterparts are visual narratives extracted from films of the Golden Age of Hispanic Cinema (Mexico, Argentina, Cuba) that play after the user scans the product’s barcode label with a commercial barcode scanner. You don’t have to be Latina(o) to understand what I am trying to say with the connections I make in the piece…all cultures can relate to the feminine/masculine discourse.
Is your piece an altar?
If you see it that way, it could have that type of reading. But it’s better to say that it responds to every individual’s experiences, education, and cultural background. So I’d like to invite everyone to play a little bit with the scanner, para que se idolatricen un poquito.
Last word: It doesn’t matter how many types of technology you use, without ideas, there is no art.
IDOlatries is in exhibition until August 19, 2007. For more information about the exhibit and the artist visit: and
Author María Fernanda Hubeaut, is a journalist and photographer who has been published in Argentina, Spain, Miami, and New York. For more info. on her work, click here.