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Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City


Abraham Cruzvillegas, Bougie du Isthmus, 2005. Fishing rods, scarves, and wire grill; installed: 19 9/10 x 33 x 16 1/3 ft. (607 x 10.06 x 4.98 m). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of the Collectors' Forum in memory of Phil Shorr, 2006.22. © 2005 Abraham Cruzvillegas

Photo © MCA Chicago


Over the last 10 years, Mexico, and Mexico City in particular, has become a thriving hub of contemporary art activity that has had an international impact. A dynamic young generation of artists has developed with a rigorous new vocabulary that embraces non-traditional sculptural materials as well as video, photography, and performance. Informed by 20-century art historical movements such as conceptualism as well as “actions” or “happenings,” which are being re-examined not only in Mexico, but worldwide by a younger generation of artists, the work also refers to aspects of popular culture—television, music, advertising, and flea markets—and its history, urban life, and current political issues. Yet the work does so in a fresh new way that is not readily identifiable as Mexican.

German performance artist Joseph Beuys's idea of social sculpture, translated into the Spanish escultura social, is used as a multivalent point of reference: the works are all socially engaged; they draw connections between people, animals, and nature; they revisit conceptual practices/actions from the 1960s; and they promote a demystified and democratic idea of artmaking. In addition, the circulation and meaning of images, objects, and actions are at the crux of these artists' works and the exhibition provides an opportunity to showcase their recent developments. It includes site-specific, performative, and ephemeral projects in addition to videos, photographs, and installations by several artists, including Maria Alós, Carlos Amorales, Julieta Aranda, Gustavo Artigas, Stefan Bruggemann, Miguel Calderon, Fernando Carabajal, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Mario Garcia-Torres, Daniel Guzman, Pablo Helguera, Gabriel Kuri, Dr. Lakra, Los Super Elegantes, Nuevos Ricos, Yoshua Okon, Damian Ortega, Fernando Ortega, Pedro Reyes, and the dynamic young architect Fernando Romero.

This exhibition is curated by MCA Pamela Alper Associate Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm. A bilingual and illustrated catalogue with contributions from the artists accompanies the exhibition.


Major support for Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City is generously provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris. Additional support is provided by Karen and Steven Berkowitz; Juan and Gela Gallardo; Anne and William J. Hokin; Abe Tomás Hughes II and Diana Girardi Karnas; the Albert Pick, Jr. Fund; and Jim and Rita Knox. This exhibition is partially supported by a grant from the Governor's International Arts Exchange Program of the Illinois Arts Council.

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