ART21 Season 8 Preview
Episode: Mexico City
Artists: Damián Ortega, Pedro Reyes, Minerva Cuevas and Natalia Almada
Adriane Little, organizer
Begining October 24, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. through October 31at 10:00 a.m. the Frostic School of Art will participate in Art21 Access '16 by previewing Season 8, Episode: Mexico City, of the PBS Art21 series. Episode - Mexico City will be on running on the plasma panels on the 1st and 2nd floor in the Atrium Gallery of the Richmond Center for Visual Arts.
This event is part of Art21 Access '16, an international screening initiative that provides opportunities to increase knowledge of contemporary art, ignite dialogue, and inspire creative thinking through hundreds of public screenings and events in celebration of the premiere of the eighth season of the Peabody Award-winning television series, Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century.
The event is free and open to the public.
Mexico City artists exit their homes and studios to use the growing megalopolis as their canvas. The artists present everyday materials as artworks, mine recognizable images for their poetic potential, and take their art to the streets.
Damián Ortega (b.1967, Mexico City, Mexico) uses objects from his everyday life—Volkswagen Beetle cars, Day of the Dead posters, locally sourced corn tortillas—to make spectacular sculptures, which suggest stories of both mythic import and cosmological scale. Pedro Reyes (b.1972, Mexico City, Mexico) designs ongoing projects that propose playful solutions to urgent social problems. From turning guns into musical instruments, to hosting a People’s United Nations to address pressing concerns, to offering ecologically friendly grasshopper burgers from a food cart, Reyes transforms existing problems into ideas for a better world. Minerva Cuevas (b.1975, Mexico City, Mexico) is a conceptual and socially-engaged artist who creates sculptural installations and paintings in response to politically charged events such as the tension between world starvation and capitalistic excess. Cuevas documents community protests in a cartography of resistance while also creating mini-sabotages—altering grocery store bar codes and manufacturing student identity cards—as part of her Better Life Corporation. Natalia Almada (b.1974, Mexico City, Mexico), the greatgranddaughter of Mexico’s controversial 40th president, Plutarco Elías Calles, makes intimate films that delve into the tragedies of her Mexican-American family’s personal history as well as the Sinaloa region’s violent present.
Damián Ortega was born in Mexico City in 1967. He uses objects from his everyday life—Volkswagen Beetle cars, Day of the Dead posters, locally-sourced corn tortillas—to make spectacular sculptures which suggest stories of both mythic import and cosmological scale. Ortega began his career as a political cartoonist and his works balance humor with incisive observations on political, social, and economic conditions. In many of the artist’s sculptures, vernacular objects are presented in precise arrangements—often suspended from the ceiling or as part of mechanized systems—that become witty representations of diagrams, solar systems, words, buildings, and faces. These shifts in perception are not just visual but also cultural, as the artist draws out the social history of the objects featured in his sculptures, films, and performances. The intellectual leap between recycled quotidian objects and complex systems of thought is what lends Ortega’s work a humble yet profound poesis.
Damián Ortega’s awards and residencies include the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2014), Preis der Nationalgalerie fur junge Kunst (nominee, 2007), DAAD Scholarship (2006), Hugo Boss Prize (nominee, 2005), and the Colecção Teixeira de Freitas Artist Residency in Lisbon (2005). Ortega has had major exhibitions at the Palacio de Cristal, Madrid (2016); Malmö Konsthall (2016); The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2016); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2015); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2015); Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro (2015); Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2014); Venice Biennale (2013, 2003); Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2011); Barbican Center, London (2010); ICA Boston (2009); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008); Tate Modern, London (2005); and MoCA, Los Angeles (2005), among others. Damián Ortega lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.
Pedro Reyes was born in Mexico City in 1972. He designs ongoing projects that propose playful solutions to social problems. From turning guns into musical instruments, to hosting a People’s United Nations to address pressing concerns, to offering ecologically-friendly grasshopper burgers from a food cart, Reyes transforms existing problems into ideas for a better world. In the artist’s hands, complex subjects like political and economic philosophies are reframed in ways that are easy to understand, such as a puppet play featuring Karl Marx and Adam Smith fighting over how to share cookies. When encountering a project by the artist, viewers are often enlisted as participants, whether through one-on-one conversations, therapeutic acts, or as creators of objects in collaborative workshops. Originally trained as an architect, Reyes is acutely aware of how people interact with the built environment, with many of the artist’s works taking the form of enclosures. Reyes’s own home, featuring an extensive library that he draws from for inspiration, is a work of art in itself that’s continually adapted by the artist and his family.
Pedro Reyes attended Ibero-American University, where he studied architecture. Reyes’s awards include the US Department of State Medal for the Arts (2016) and a Ford Foundation Fellowship (2016). Reyes has had major exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2015); ICA Miami (2014); The Power Plant, Toronto (2014); Beijing Biennale (2014); Queens Museum (2013); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2013); Liverpool Biennial (2012); Gwangju Biennial (2012); Documenta (2012); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2010); Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City (2010); Serpentine Gallery, London (2010); Lyon Biennale (2009); Yokohama Triennale (2008); Bass Museum, Miami (2008); Prospect New Orleans (2008); MCA Chicago (2007); Aspen Art Museum (2006); and the Venice Biennale (2003), among others. Pedro Reyes lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.
Minerva Cuevas was born in Mexico City in 1975. She's a conceptual and socially-engaged artist who creates sculptural installations and paintings in response to politically-charged events, such as the tension between world starvation and capitalistic excess. Cuevas documents community protests in a cartography of resistance while also creating mini-sabotages—altering grocery store bar codes and manufacturing student identity cards—as part of her non-profit Mejor Vida Corp / Better Life Corporation. Several of the artist’s works take the form of re-branding campaigns—exhibited as murals and product designs—that question the role corporations play in food production, the management of natural resources, fair labor practices, and evolving forms of neo-colonialism. Cuevas finds provocative ways to intervene in public space, whether through the deployment of billboards and posters, or by hacking public utilities to provide discounted or free services. Cuevas addresses the negative impact that humans have on animals and the environment through sculptures coated in tar and tender paintings of animal rights activists, imagining a society that values all living beings.
Minerva Cuevas attended the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas UNAM (1997). Cuevas’s awards and residencies include the Edith-Ruß-Haus für Medienkunst Stipend in Oldenberg (2004) DAAD Scholarship (2003), and The Banff Centre for the Arts (1998). Cuevas has had major exhibitions at Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporaneo (2013); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2013); Museo de la Ciudad de México (2012); Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); Liverpool Biennial (2010); Berlin Biennale (2010); Whitechapel Gallery (2010); KW Institute for Contemporary Art (2010); Centre Pompidou (2010); SFMoMA (2008); Van Abbemuseum (2008); Biennale de Lyon (2007); Kunsthalle Basel (2007); Bienal de São Paulo (2006); and the Istanbul Biennial (2003), among others. Minerva Cuevas lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.
Natalia Almada was born in Mexico City in 1974. The great-granddaughter of Mexico’s controversial 40th president Plutarco Elías Calles, she makes intimate films that delve into the tragedies of her Mexican-American family’s personal history as well as the Sinaloa region’s violent present. Ranging from documentary to fiction to experimental narrative, Almada’s films portray a world filtered through recollection and constructed by diverging points of view. Whether chronicling the daily lives of Mexican drug smugglers, immigrants, corrido musicians, or government bureaucrats, Almada’s camera acts a witness to lives ensnared by violence and power struggles. What comes into view is a portrait of society, both its political history and collective memory, as told through individual experiences. Her lyrical films adopt non-linear and multilayered approaches to storytelling, advancing the narrative through arresting images, poetic observations, and meditative scenes that unfold in real time. Almada’s own presence—sympathetic yet questioning—pervades each film through her role as director, cinematographer, editor, narrator, and at times autobiographical subject of the work.
Natalia Almada attended the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 2001) and the College of Santa Fe (BFA, 1995). Her awards and residencies include the Headlands Center for the Arts (2015), MacArthur Fellowship (2012), Alpert Award (2011), MacDowell Colony Fellowship (2011), United States Artists Fellowship (2010), Sundance Directing Award for Documentary (2009), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008). Almada’s films have screened at New Directors/New Film, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Documenta, Munich International Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and as part of the POV series on PBS. Natalia Almada lives and works between Mexico City, Mexico, and San Francisco, CA, USA.