Deborah Castillo wears a lot of hats as an artist. And wigs. Originally from Venezuela, Castillo often blurs the lines between performance, video, photography, publications and even jewelry making. What binds these endeavors together is a sharp, critical wit (usually trained on political institutions) and flair for the dramatic. That might manifest as necklaces in the shape of misogynist slurs in Spanish or over-the-top fictional narratives involving art world kidnappings and embezzlement.
I met Castillo (who now lives in Bushwick) at her book launch at Mexico City’s Aeromoto, an artist-run library of contemporary art and artist books. She was celebrating the release of “La Dama Profunda / Profoundly Yours”, the third installment of her “Dramas Museísticos” series. I was immediately drawn to the format of the publications—they’re fotonovelas, comic-book like novels that use photography instead of illustrations. They were a popular form of mass media in Latin America, but are less known in the US. They’re fun and extremely approachable—even though Spanish is my second language, they’re easy reading, and the third book contains an English version of the story.
The books follow the soap-opera-like story of Castillo’s alter ego Profunda Mol, an ambitious woman who social climbs through the art world of her native Venezuela. Profunda navigates (often through seduction) a world of corrupt officials, along the way becoming the Venezuelan Minister of Culture, an Ambassador to the United States, and ultimately Donald Trump’s fourth wife.
We talked about fotonovelas, sexuality in the art world, and the crappy political climate.