David Antin Prize

The winner of the 2022 David Antin Prize is MFA candidate Isidro Pérez García!

Presented by Department Chair Ricardo Dominguez:

Isidro Pérez-García’s gestures unbrick the border walls of 500 plus years of colonialist authoritarian temporality, with its binding of Ixachilan to the death march of the repeating settler Future and History without end. En el campo la vida es sin la jaula del futuro y la prisión del modernismo urbano, que es la muerte total. En el campo cada cosa, cada flor, vive sin frontera y el campesino tambien vive sin frontera. Pérez-García creates spirals of encuentros, of momentos, that often also carry a deep and sly critical humor echoing the methods of David Antin. Call and response:  if Antin writes, “I never knew what time it was”, Pérez-García lends us his “maquina del tiempo” to the tune of Rodrigo González.  

Pérez-García’s gestures, intimately and precisely touch the worlds that modernity has forced campesinos to forget:  

Como va el campo.  

Como respira the maguey, its living—breath.  

Who wanders urban spaces as one of the undocumented of Los Angeles un-seeing el maguey all around la casa now?

Maguey begins to speak and write of the campesinX urbanX; it brings forth what Pérez-García names El Anti-Archivo del Campesino Urbano / The Anti-Archive of the Urban Campesino.  

Pérez-García’s gestures form an un-archive that does not seal off the extracted and abstracted knowledge of the world. Instead, the artist co-creates undocumentary methods of embodied making with what is unvalued by the logic of property. His anti-archivo unseals and digs up all the unwanted materials, the leftovers, the waste, the cinders of backyard fires during the days of contagion.  

Remainders, the discarded call on him to co-create with his partner, his mother, corazones made of la tierra. Together, with contestational joy, they have re-assembled that which makes thought and unthought; that which can/could be re-imagineered from an old 99 cent plastic heart with their hands, that which allows them and us to feel “what time it was…”--the making of nondualistic thought.  

Touch the spiral and sounds of Pérez-García’s immersive non-temporal machine installation that moves outside, between, with and beyond the Future (with a big F) and History (with a big H) with its either/or or and/both with the un-possible neither/nor.  

Isidro Pérez-García fearlessly activates the sacrificial rituals of Ixachilan, of dismembering and remembering, of the cosmogonic ripping of la madre Tlaltecuhtli to make la tierra that creates sustenance and beings, as well as popular towels and cell-phone cases, that creates home-bound Fiestas Criticas where the maguey speaks back at racist neighbors. Flora and fauna echan la mano in the activation of the artist’s un-aesthetics. The productive unsettling method for co-creation reflects the artist’s own unsettled being living in the urban campesinx’s every day, in its everywhere, and in the nowhere that crosses fronteras con lodo that heals and makes other worlds possible—indigenous futurities--in the here and now.

This annual prize was started to support a third-year MFA Visual Arts student who reflects David Antin’s focus on interdisciplinary work and the use of multiple mediums. The awardee has shown originality and creativity in work as an artist or writer in the field of art criticism. The prize comes with a $1,000 award.

David Antin, a poet, critic and performance artist of lasting importance, passed away on October 11, 2016. He was 84. His background included undergraduate work in science and languages with graduate work in linguistics at New York University (his special project was the language structure of Gertrude Stein). He edited and translated several science and math books and pursued a career as a poet since 1955 and that of an art critic since 1964. He also served as the Educational Curator for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston before joining the Visual Arts Department in 1968. 

For four years he was Director of the UCSD Mandeville Art Gallery, assembling exhibitions of post-Pop representation (Katz, Morley, Estes, Wesselman), an exhibition of Nancy Spero’s Artaud Drawings, a video piece by Keith Sonnier, an installation piece by Richard Serra, and a performance by Joan Jonas, as well as a large group show of artists from the Fluxus group. He also started the poetry readings at UCSD, the recordings from which became part of the UCSD Library’s Special Collections’ Poetry Archive, which he helped inaugurate. 

Antin began full-time teaching in 1972 and his courses covered such areas as the Structure of Art, History of Criticism, Tactics and Strategies, Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism, and Narrative Theory.

David Antin In Memoriam