Citizen X Art Show: Sergio Torres-Torres Discusses Identity

Citizen X Art Show: Sergio Torres-Torres Discusses Identity

By Alfredo Guzman

     “Citizen X” by Sergio Torres Torres was on display at the Steppling Art Gallery, February 9th through March 3rd, 2017 on the San Diego State University Campus in Imperial Valley.

The opening was February 9th from 6PM-9PM. Gallery hours are Thursday, 5:30-8PM and by appointment. The event is partially sponsored by IRA and ASC. Visit the SDSU Imperial Valley gallery online for more information at

Sergio Torres Torres received his MFA in Fine Arts from UCLA, and was awarded a postgraduate residency at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (2007-2009); in 2005 he was a participant of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York; and in 1996 he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Sergio Torres has exhibited his work in Los Angeles, Houston, The Hague, New York, Tijuana, Vienna, Copenhagen, among others. Torres Torres has taught at Art Center of Design, Pasadena College of Design and Otis College of Art, Los Angeles.

The show consists of two large scale works. “Citizen X (fifty pairs)” which are photocopy acrylic transfers on canvas hung on the wall and “Citizen X (astronauts with space blanket)” which consists of silver space blankets and acrylic paintings on canvas hung on aluminum pipes, which divide the gallery space.

According to the Citizen X on site explanation, “Sergio Torres Torres appropriates and juxtaposes mask imagery onto the same pair of photographs of his parents. Superimposing over these two personally iconic photographic images creates a dialog.

Citizen X speaks to problems of representing entire groups of subjects who forfeit their personal identities for some broader form of representation, and it leads us to ask; how is difference obliterated in the construction of identities that become stereotyped?”

Visually, the space of the gallery is transformed into a metaphor of “self” and “other” by both the large scale works of art of Citizen X. Simultaneously capturing the image of the viewer in the mylar of the space blankets and confronting the viewer with the “other” of the masked photo transfers hanging on the wall.

     According to Sergio Torres Torres, “We impose identity on a group as we impose identity on ourselves. That’s how we relate to people.”

He continued, “The power of the mask in ancient times, in ritual; if you have a mask you have entrance into another reality. This applies to how many cultures think of masks.”

When asked about how the process of creating the photo transfers relates to the content of his artwork Torres said, “Physically doing the work. It’s about the mask and masking. Masking is better than hiding. A mask is transformational.”

When asked about the iconic space alien and space theme used throughout “Citizen X” Torres said, “The alien, I like to use the alien. It’s a funny approach. It’s absurd. The alien is seen as an invader. It’s a negative term. When you put the word illegal’ in front of the word alien’ it puts a negative identity,’ Illegal alien’ on certain people. The alien is a colonizer. That’s what was sold to us. The astronaut (whose imagery appears on the space blanket portion of the art installation) is seen as the hero from the U.S perspective. But, the astronaut is the colonizer. The contradiction of the alien /astronaut on the astronaut blanket creates a border.”

When asked about the analogy of the border wall and his astronaut blanket Torres said, “The politics have become more urgent and things have changed. It’s not the wall that has become important it’s the symbolism. The rhetoric is symbolic. The more it is analyzed the more clear it is that a simplistic ideology is being sold to us.”