Javier Téllez
1969, Venezuela. Lives and works in New York

The work of Javier Téllez has, over the years, dealt with institutional dynamics, mental illness as a marginal condition, and borderline collective and individual behaviour. His recent video installation, El León de Caracas ‘documents’ six police officers of the Policía Metropolitana de Caracas, carrying a stuffed lion down the steps of one of Caracas’ most dangerous shantytowns.
The ‘procession’ ends at the foot of the hill when the lion is set down for the inhabitants of the barrio to admire, in a way that recalls religious processions in which statues of Christ, the Virgin Mary, or saints are paraded throughout the city during Holy Week. By recontextualizing the practice and staging this irrational act within the space of the shantytown (in other words the peripheral space of marginality, instead of the established space of the city and its monuments and squares); by substituting the saint for a dissected animal, the “king of the jungle” but also the emblem of the city; and by having the enforcers of law and order perform the task, Téllez inverts a set of social and political conventions implied in the concepts of state, religion, and citizenship.

Selected solo exhibitions: 2002: White Box, New York; Sala Mendoza, Caracas, Venezuela; 2001: Sala 7, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City; 1999: Gasworks, London.
Selected group exhibitions: 2002: Queens International, Queens Museum of Art, New York; Etnografía: modo de empleo, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas; Bienal Iberoamericana de Lima, Peru; Taboo and Mavericks, Kunsthalle Basel; 2001: 49ª Venice Biennale; Yokohama Triennale, Japan; Demonstration Room: Ideal House, NICC, Antwerp, Belgium; Hieronymus Bosch, Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Loop: Alles auf anfang, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich; 2000: Kwangju Biennale, Korea; Greater New York: New Art in New York Now, P.S.1, New York; The End, Exit Art, New York; 1998: 3a Bienal Barro de América, Paço das Artes, Sao Paulo, Brazil; IX Premio Mendoza, Sala Mendoza, Caracas.

El León de Caracas, 2002. Video still and installation.