Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Escultura Social

I have lost confidence...
Julieta Aranda I have lost confidence... • 2006 • spray paint on fabriano academia paper • dimensions variable
Edition of 3 aside from 2 artist's proof • courtesy of Galerie Edward Mitterrand, Genva, Switzerland

Escultura Social: A New Generation of Art from Mexico City opened at the end of June and is on view through September 2 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The exhibition originates from the MCA and was organized by curator Julie Rodrigues Windholm. Not all the artists are currently working in Mexico City, but that urban center serves as starting point, backdrop and source of inspiration. In essence, the show is a survey of young art coming out of capital. Particularly with a social and conceptual tinge. “Escultura Social” literally translates to social sculpture, the obvious impetus then being Joseph Beuys and his big idea of society being sculpture, people being art, and on. It also randomly fits that the word “escultura” seems to imply “culture.” A lot of the work in this show deals with notions of culture and cultural exchange.

Pablo Helguera’s The School of Panamerican Unrest posits the idea that the cultural centers of the Americas are still polarized, only along a North South axis. This led to a trip from South to North America, with stops along the way. The results are a jackpot of this type of art: videos of performances, artifacts, and documents. The best of which is this:

The School of Panamerican Unrest
Pablo Helguera • 2006 • one of 36 digital prints on sintra, ea: 24x18in • courtesy of the artist

Beuys’ mixture of the spiritual and playful lives on in a lot of this work. The art duo Los Super Elegantes, in addition to making Spanish language pop music and videos, stage dance performance painting happenings that are right out of Fluxus. Audience participation plays a roll, particularly in the work of Pedro Reyes, where we are invited to climb inside his moebeus strip sculpture, or sit on his teeter totter that allows on person to bounce many. There’s also Gustavo Artigas’ sideways basketball game that is fun to play and probably illustrates a philosophical theory.

Not all the work is great, but a lot of it is. And not to sound too populist, but there is pretty much something for everyone here. It presents a good cross section of different artists’ practices whose work shares common threads. It seems especially well suited for a city with such a large Latino population. Hopefully it draws in many visitors that might not usually check out a contemporary art museum.


Lisa Hunter said...

The Chicago art scenes seems altogether too fun and interesting. How will New Yorkers maintain their righteous sense of superiority if you keep this up?

m. said...

I saw it on Tuesday, and wasn't a big fan. Maybe I'm an art elitist, but it reminded me of the Tropicalia show, which I HATED. There were a few pieces I liked, such as the Reyes sculptures and the paint color chart, but overall I was pretty underwhelmed.