press release

The 2000 Census figures revealed a new demographic portrait of the United States, a country now populated by more foreign-born and first-generation residents than at any other time in history. The statistics show that the population of U.S. residents defining themselves by the category known as Hispanic, Latin American or Latino alone has grown by 58 percent in the last 10 years. Of those self-identified Latinos, half are under 26 years old and more than one-third are under 18.

The release of this data prompted a remarkable spike in media and public interest in and awareness of the influence of Latino communities on mainstream U.S. society, and a growing recognition of "Latino-ness" (defined as a broad cultural identity rather than an ethnic grouping) as a dominant cultural force, exemplified by the crossover pop stardom of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, who self-identify as Puerto Rican though both were born in New York City.

Exit Art co-founder Papo Colo refers to the shifts caused by the dynamic fusion of influences taking place around us as "boomerang colonization." This is the process by which populations that have been shaped by the history of European colonization move into the U.S. and give birth to a new cultural identity. At first, this new culture's role is as an exotic spice added to the mainstream. As time goes on, the influence of the new culture, fueled by its growing membership, becomes part of the mainstream identity.

At the same time, the infinite variations on Latino identity that exist within the broad categories of the census �influenced by factors including the regular influx of new immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, the movement of families and individuals through socioeconomic classes, the shifting demographics of urban regions, the multiplicity of nationalities, and the variable prevalence or absence of the Spanish language in different households and communities -- make broad generalizations about this increasingly important population impossible.

In New York City, for example, more than half of Spanish-speaking immigrants once came from Puerto Rico; today, the city's rapid growth is fueled by arrivals from Mexico, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. And it is important to recognize that there is no single Latin American culture across Spanish-speaking nations. While in the United States there still exists an idea that all Spanish-speaking people are part of a unified Hispanic World, the unifying element of the Spanish language does not cancel out the fact that people of Latin American descent have roots in diverse cultures and geographies.

The merging of these populations in the United States out of social and linguistic necessity has resulted in a unique (and perhaps very American) phenomenon: a self-defined culture. Moreover, as soon as we begin to talk about this cultural phenomenon, we run into troublesome, imprecise, and geocentric terms like "Hispanic," "Latino," and "American." This complexity of discourse may be endemic to cultures in Diaspora, an unavoidable challenge of contemporary life in nations with large immigrant communities. The promise inherent in that challenge is that when culture becomes a matter of self-identification, we are all free to claim membership in multiple groups and to invent new identities, new groups, and even new cultures.

In the light of both demographics and debate, the approach of a new Latino generation to the question of identity seems crucial not only to the millions of young Latinos (400,000 in the New York City public schools alone) asking themselves the same questions, but also to the future of any kind of cultural production in the United States.

L Factor will explore this rich terrain by focusing on the new generation of emerging Latino artists and their varying approaches to issues of identity in the age of globalization. Due to the lowered cost of travel, technological advances in communications, and the increased opportunities for Latino artists in the international art scene, these young artists are more interconnected than their predecessors: they regularly travel to their or their families' countries of origin and communicate with artists there and in other Latin American countries.

Since these artists participate in an increasingly global cultural discourse, they are exposed to a multiplicity of voices unavailable to previous generations, giving them the freedom to approach the task of representation as a choice rather than a struggle or a burden. Instead of being strictly identity-based, their work appreciates identity as a potent factor in the way an artist reacts to society: a conceptual tool rather than an explicit content.

The visual artists, video artists, musicians and writers featured in L Factor reference more than the issues specific to their particular roots in their art; considering their Latino identity as an important but not exclusive factor in their approaches to art making, they are turning their unique perspectives onto broad issues like genetics, new technology, marketing, communication, and sociology.

Exit Art has consistently been committed to examining critical issues in contemporary society and culture through the work of emerging artists, contextualizing their work within larger discussions in the art world and making it accessible to a larger audience. For L Factor, Exit Art has commissioned new works from 31 emerging Latino visual artists and collaborated with a group of prominent Latino curators and public intellectuals to create an array of public programs in video, music, literature and discussion. Come explore the two-way movement of this major cultural shift as we witness the Americanization of Latino culture and the Latinoization of American culture.


Exit Art invited 31 Latino artists who live and work in the United States to create a conceptual portrait of the Latino icon of their choice who has influenced American culture and entered into the popular imagination or cultural history of this country.

Manuel Acevedo Lives Newark, NJ; born NJ of Puerto Rican descent Lolita Lebron

Andrea Arroyo Lives New York, NY; born Mexico Frida Kahlo

Eduardo Cintron Lives in Fairfield, CT; born in Germany of Puerto Rican descent Tito Trinidad

Valeria Cordero and Pilita Garcia Esquivel Lives New York, NY; born Venezuela Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Chile Carolina Herrera

Iliana Emilia Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Dominican Republic Eugenio Maria de Hostos

Eduardo Gil Lives L.I.C., NY; born Venezuela Roberto Clemente

Nicolas Guagnini Lives New York, NY; born Argentina Oscar de la Hoya ,Tristan Tzara

Linda Irizarry Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Puerto Rico Jennifer Lopez

Claudia Joskowicz Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Bolivia Ricardo Montalban

Tamara Kostianovsky Lives Philadelphia, PA; born Argentina Frida Kahlo

Cristobal Lehyt Lives New York, NY; born Chile Don Francisco

Hermann Mejia and Lucia Pizzani Lives New York, NY; born Venezuela Lives Astoria, NY; born Venezuela Chico Mendes

Jose Mertz Lives New York, NY, born in NY of Puerto Rico descent Tony Touch, Big Pun, Beatnuts, Cypress Hill

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga Lives Brooklyn, NY; born in California of Nicaraguan descent Cantinflas

Maritza Molina Lives Miami, FL; born Cuba Ana Mendieta

Marcus Morales Lives New Mexico; born Mexico Speedy Gonzalez

Felipe Mujica Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Chile Tito Puente

Ivan Navarro Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Chile Cantinflas

Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz and Edwin Gonzalez Lives Bronx, NY; born in NY of Puerto Rican descent; Lives New York, NY Jennifer Lopez

Freddy Rodriguez Lives Queens, NY; born Dominican Republic Sammy Sosa

Milton Rosa-Ortiz Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Puerto Rico Jennifer Lopez

Karin Schneider Lives New York, NY; born Brazil Carmen Miranda

Courtney Smith Lives New York and Brazil, NY; born France Joao Gilberto

Xavier Tavera Lives St. Paul, MN; born Mexico Celia Cruz

Christian Torres Roje Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Chile Claudio Arrau

Johanna Unzueta Lives Brooklyn, NY; born Chile Jose Santos

Alex Villar Lives Bronx, NY; born Brazil Pele

Johnny the Whip Lives in Manhattan; born Puerto Rico Machito, Cesar Chavez, Arturo Schomburg

only in german


mit Manuel Acevedo, Andrea Arroyo, Eduardo Cintron, Valeria Cordero / Pilita Garcia Esquivel, Iliana Emilia, Eduardo Gil, Nicolas Guagnini, Linda Irizarry, Claudia Joskowicz, Tamara Kostianovsky, Cristobal Lehyt, Hermann Mejia / Lucia Pizzani, Jose Mertz, Ricardo Miranda Zuniga, Maritza Molina, Marcus Morales, Felipe Mujica, Ivan Navarro, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz / Edwin Gonzalez, Freddy Rodriguez, Milton Rosa-Ortiz, Karin Schneider, Courtney Smith, Xavier Tavera, Christian Torres Roje, Johanna Unzueta, Alex Villar, Johnny the Whip