Gabriel Chaile in collaboration with Laura Ojeda Bär

Usos y costumbres

Gabriel Chaile (b. 1985, San Miguel de Tucumán) presents a transformative new sculptural installation continuing his investigations which invite participants to generate new collaborative and ritual spaces.

Chaile’s practice draws on the histories of his homeland in northwestern Argentina, as well as archaeological and ethnographic ceramic artefacts from the region. The artist describes his work as investigating a "genealogy of form", uncovering and affirming remains of the past. His works poetically embody ancestral knowledge and Indigenous beliefs erased and suppressed by colonialism and its ongoing legacies. Collaboration and exchange are key to Chaile's work, and his large–scale sculptures trace objects associated with these ideas, such as vessels, pots and clay ovens. His practice has previously encompassed nomadic culinary projects, communal meals, and founding NVS, an experimental space to bring together an international network of artists, friends and colleagues.

As a continuation of this work, the artist has collaborated with Laura Ojeda Bär (b. 1986. Buenos Aires) to conceive Usos y costumbres, building on their shared interest in how visual forms circulate, are valued and hold power. Pointing to the symbolic and functional materials which characterise Chaile’s works, the exhibition’s title Usos y costumbres can be translated as ‘customs and traditions’ or literally, ‘uses and customs’. The phrase also alludes to the conventions of gallery and museological display, which the artists have radically reimagined.

Chaile has entirely covered the space with clay, referencing the historic churches and houses of Argentina that are commonly made from compacted earth and adobe bricks. This monumental gesture envelops the viewer within an environment that both incorporates the gallery’s former use as a chapel and fully reconceives its architecture. Many of Ojeda Bär’s paintings derive from online documentation of sculptures held in London museums, ranging from contemporary artworks to contested antiquities shown within vitrines. These miniaturised works have been sculpted into the richly tactile, terracotta-coloured walls, which form a malleable container for Ojeda Bär’s paintings. Elsewhere, her paintings expand the fantastical possibilities of the room, introducing windows and skylights into the adobe structure. 

Chaile and Ojeda Bär have proposed Usos y costumbres as a space for experimentation and dialogue, creating new conditions in which to encounter each other's practices. Collectively, they reconfigure narratives across art history and contemporary life to offer new emotional, political and cultural relationships between the past and the present. 

Lead supporter: Erica Roberts.

Supported by Henry Moore Foundation and the Gabriel Chaile Supporters’ Circle: ChertLüdde, Antonio Murzi, Guillermo Navone, Nicoletta Fiorucci Foundation and Juan Vergez.

Studio Voltaire’s Programmes are core funded by The Studio Voltaire Council.

Studio Voltaire’s 2023/2024 Exhibitions programme has received support from Cockayne – The London Community Foundation.

With special thanks to: Malena Bach, Gonçalo Barreiros, Joaquin Biglione, Pablo Bronstein, Jennifer Chert, Tomás Bargao Henriques, Manuel Barros Brito, Ben Clarke, Santiago Delfino, William Evans, Ambassador Javier Figueroa and Minister Alessandra Viggiano Marra, Trinidad Frombella, Henry Glover, Florian Lüdde, NVS, Amalia Pica, Clarissa Tempestini and Juan Perdiguero Trillo.

  1. Gabriel Chaile (b.1985, Argentina) lives and works in Buenos Aires and Lisbon. Chaile’s work has been exhibited at 5th New Museum Triennial, New York (2021); Foundation Thalie, Brussels (2021); Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires (MAMBA) (2017); Centro Cultural San Pablo T, Tucumán (2016); Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires (2015); National Fund of Arts, Buenos Aires (2014); Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires (2011); New Energy Museum of Contemporary Art (the Ene), Buenos Aires (2011). In 2022, he participated in the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. This is the first-ever institutional exhibition of his work in the UK. 

  2. Laura Ojeda Bär (b. 1986, Argentina) lives and works in Buenos Aires. She practises as an artist and independent curator. In 2019 Ojeda Bär took part in NES artist’s residency, Iceland, and Universidad Torcuato di Tella Artist’s Programs, Argentina. In 2020 she was commissioned by the InterAmerican Development Bank to produce new work for its Washington headquarters. Ojeda Bär’s works are held in private and public collections in Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Brazil and the United States. Her works have been exhibited in Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, Buenos Aires (2022); Casa Nacional de Bicentenario, Buenos Aires (2022); Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires (2022); Moria Gallery, Buenos Aires (2022); Casa Argentina in Rome, Italy (2021); Fundación Tres Pinos, Buenos Aires (2019); Pasto Gallery, Buenos Aires (2016, 2015, 2013).

  3. Gabriel Chaile in collaboration with Laura Ojeda Bär, Usos y costumbres. Installation view at Studio Voltaire, 2023. Images courtesy of the artists and Studio Voltaire. Photography by Sarah Rainer.

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