Tony Labat

With ironic wit and incisive social critique, Tony Labat's provocative, nonlinear narrative collages confront cultural identity, loss and displacement. Adopting an irreverent, often subversive stance, Labat represents the experience of difference and marginalization from the mediated position of the "outsider," and deconstructs the codes by which the mass media reinforces cultural mythologies. In his idiosyncratic pastiches of performance, appropriated imagery and unexpected visual metaphors, Labat uses disguise, theatricality, storytelling and role-playing as narrative devices.

Born in Cuba, Labat emigrated to the United States as a teen-ager. His multitextual assemblages use disjunctive structures — stream-of-consciousness visuals and ruptured narrative syntax — that mirror his inquiry into the disorientation and transformation of acculturation. Deftly interweaving the fictive and the real, Labat draws on autobiographical, popular media and historical sources: For example, Ricky Ricardo, the Afro-Cuban folk god Babalu (Babalu, 1980), Cuban boat people (Kikiriki, 1983), and Miami Vice (Mayami: Between Cut and Action, 1986) are all invoked as representations of Latino culture. In all of his video works, Labat uses low-tech video and performance as narrative strategies. At times poignant, at times satirical and assaultive, Labat's fragmented narratives are unflinching articulations of the politics of cultural alienation.

Labat was born in Havana, Cuba in 1951, and emigrated to the United States in 1966. He received both a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has received numerous awards, including grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts; Film Arts Foundation, San Francisco; Open Channels, Long Beach Museum of Art; Artspace, San Francisco; and The Fleishhacker Foundation. Labat is currently a faculty member in the Department of Performance and Video at the San Francisco Art Institute. His videos are part of the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Kunstmuseum, Bern; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Long Beach Museum of Art, California. His videos and installations have been widely exhibited, at festivals and institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; American Film Institute National Video Festival, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Bonn Videonale; World Wide Video Festival, The Hague; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico; and The Kitchen, New York. He lives in San Francisco.