b. 1978, Bogotá, Colombia
Carlos Motta was born in 1978 in Bogotá. He earned his BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2001, and completed his MFA at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2003. He participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in New York in 2006.
Motta takes a multidisciplinary approach, and his work engages problems of sexuality, gender identity, minority culture, politics, and religion. In his quest to suggest counter-narratives to dominant history from the perspective of the oppressed, he has collaborated with academics, activists, artists, performers, and researchers around the world. Since 2005, Motta has been working on Democracy Cycle, a series of large-scale projects that interrogate aspects of democracy, including U.S. foreign policy and intervention (The Good Life, 2008) political exile and cultural assimilation (The Immigrants Files: Democracy is Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny, 2009) political and ideological genocide (Six Acts: An Experiment in Narrative Justice, 2010), and religious faith as a form of social liberation (Deus Pobre: Modern Sermons of Communal Lament, 2011).
Motta’s multipart documentary project We Who Feel Differently (2012) tracks the development of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTIQQ) politics. In one part of the project, a series of video interviews archived online, Motta takes a contrarian view of the assimilationist politics that have defined the mainstream LBGT movement’s agenda over the past decade. For example, the project questions how progressive same-sex marriage or military service really are, suggesting that their institutors’ goal—inclusion within the heteronormative order—may be just a short-term political goal.
Gender Talents (2013– ) documents the work of trans and intersex activists, examining the politics of gender-self determination. One part of the work, Gender Talents: A Special Address, presented in 2013 at The Tanks at Tate Modern, London, in collaboration with Electra, featured a live event with a cast of academicians and artists performing manifestos. As in most of his participatory work, Gender Talents saw Motta acting as facilitator, offering others a space and a structure, and highlighting the role of trans, intersex, and queer activists in building a dynamic politics of resistance.
Motta has been the subject of solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York (2009); Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá (2010); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2012); and The Tanks, Tate Modern, London (2013). He has also participated in the group exhibitions The Greenroom: Reconsidering the Documentary in Contemporary Art, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2008); the Lyon Biennial (2009); To the Arts Citizens!, Museuo Fundação Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2010); Found in Translation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011); III Trienal Poli/gráfica de San Juan: America Latina y el Caribe, Puerto Rico, (2012); global aCtIVISm, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Germany (2013); and Burning Down the House, 10th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014). Motta was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008 and completed residencies with the International Artists Studio Program in Sweden (IASPIS), Stockholm (2007), and the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at the Union Theological Seminary, New York (2013). He lives and works in New York.